Tag Archives: Poetic Representations of Gender

‘This is what a feminist looks like’

7 Aug

President Barack Obama recently penned an essay for Glamour Magazine in which he discussed feminism; what it is, why it is important, and why men should be feminists too.

I think this would be a great text to use as part of a unit about gender and identity as it challenges the perception that a prerequisite for identifying as a feminist is being a woman.

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Institutionalised inequality

19 Jun

Maxine Beneba Clarke wrote a poem in 2014 in response to the shooting of Tamir Rice at the hands of police.  In this poem, entitled ‘Even if it gets to 104 degrees’, a mother speaks to her son and reminds him of the special burden placed on African American boys to behave in ways that overtly respectful and suspicion.  She remind him that many of the things other boys can do, he cannot.  Why? Because “black boys got shot for less.”

I would love to teach this poem alongside Blythe Baird’s ‘Pocket-sized Feminism‘, a spoken word poem in which the poem eloquently and powerfully explores gendered expectations and perceptions.   Through this poem it is implied that being a woman is accompanied by extra burdens – social norms which determine behaviour and dictate responses.

I think this poems would pair well as both discuss the notion that identity does not exist in a vacuum divorced from social norms and expectations.

 

‘Decadence’

25 May

I recently stumbled upon Ed Carlyon’s Spoken Word poem ‘Decadence’, and I think it would be a great addition to a unit about poetic representations of gender.  I think it would be a particularly interesting companion text to Harry Baker’s poem ‘Real Men‘.

Carlyon’s poem begins with the confronting observation that he has “seen more men binge drink than [he’s]…  seen cry and that don’t make sense.” In this opening statement, Carlyon powerfully links drinking culture to a peculiarly Australian masculinity.  As he continues, a distinct binary becomes apparent, with certain behaviours implicitly deemed manly and others as weak.  The depth of emotion conveyed in this poem is impressive and capable of sparking interesting discussion amongst students.

Intersections of race, culture and gender

24 May

I have written a lot about poetry as a form of advocacy, as an outlet for opinions, and as a means of helping young people to engage with and express opinions about the world.  I have also written about poetry as a powerful means of engaging young people with ideas and perspectives that, although sometimes outside students’ own realms of experience, are nonetheless important and worth discussing.

Another poem that I think students should hear is Mary Black’s ‘Quiet‘.  In this poem, Black, an Indigenous woman, explores her people’s experiences.  She also rails against the expectation that Indigenous women remain quiet, arguing in favour of advocacy, opinion, and articulating experiences.

Body image

6 Apr

I have written previously about body image in relation to poetic representation of gender.

While searching for an engaging TED talk for a junior class I happened upon a Spoken Word poem entitled ‘Beach Bodies‘.  In this poem, two males discuss the social expectations to look and act particular ways.  I think the poem would be a great addition to a unit about gender, perhaps as a companion piece to Aya De Leon’s ‘Cellulite’.

Pairs of texts

31 Mar

I have spent a lot of time recently thinking about interesting textual pairings for study as part of a comparative unit.  Many of my ideas are not suitable for my school context or the ability levels of my classes.  However, I do think that, in the right contexts and with the right classes, all could form the basis of interesting and engaging units.

  1. A Lesson Before Dying (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  2. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Freedom Writers (film)
  3. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Girl At War (novel)
  4. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  5. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Schindler’s List (film)
  6. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  7. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & The Devil That Danced on Water (non-fiction)
  8. A Long Way Gone (memoir) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)
  9. Americanah (novel) & selected episodes of Black-ish (television series)
  10. A Monster Calls (novel) & Boy (film)
  11. A Monster Calls (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  12. A Monster Calls (novel/film) & Frankenstein (novel)
  13. And Then There Were None (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  14. Animal Farm (novel) & Selection of episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  15. Anzac Girls (television series) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  16. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & For Colored Girls (film)
  17. Bad Feminist (collection of essays) & When I Hit You (novel)
  18. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  19. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Dreamer (novel)
  20. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & The Kite Runner (film or graphic novel)
  21. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  22. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & Boy (film)
  23. Becoming Kirrali Lewis (novel) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel)
  24. Beloved (novel) & Dracula (novel)
  25. Beloved (novel) & Frankenstein (novel)
  26. Beloved (novel) & Icarus Girl (novel)
  27. Beloved (novel) & Uncle Tom’s Cabin (novel)
  28. Beloved (novel) & Unconfessed (novel)
  29. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Americanah (novel)
  30. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Selected short stories of Chinua Achebe (short stories)
  31. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Desdemona (play)
  32. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & God Help the Child (novel)
  33. Boy, Snow, Bird (novel) & Kissing the Witch (novel)
  34. Brave New World (novel) & The Crucible (play)
  35. Brave New World (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  36. Brave New World (novel) & V for Vendetta (film)
  37. Briar Rose (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  38. Briar Rose (novel) & Lion (film)
  39. Briar Rose (novel) & Night (autobiography)
  40. Briar Rose (novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  41. Deadline (novel) & Dead Poets Society (film)
  42. Deadline (novel) & The Fault In Our Stars (film)
  43. Deadline (novel) & The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (film)
  44. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  45. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  46. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Invictus (film)
  47. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Remember the Titans (films)
  48. Deadly, Unna? (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  49. El Deafo (graphic novel) & The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel)
  50. Etiquette and Espionage (novel) & Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (film)
  51. Exit West (novel) & Romeo and Juliet (play)
  52. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  53. Exit West (novel) & The poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  54. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & After the Storm (film)
  55. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & 11’09’01 (collection of short films)
  56. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (novel) & Lion (film)
  57. Face (novel) & The Intouchables (film)
  58. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & Persepolis (graphic novel or film)
  59. Fahrenheit 451 (novel) & V For Vendetta (film)
  60. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & When I Hit You (novel)
  61. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf (choreopoem) & Mustang (film)
  62. Frankenstein (novel) & Boy, Snow, Bird (novel)
  63. Frankenstein (novel) & Frankenweenie (film)
  64. Frankenstein (novel) & The Iron Giant (film)
  65. Frankenstein (novel) & Metropolis (film)
  66. Frankenstein (novel) & Never Let Me Go (film)
  67. Frankenstein (novel) & The Rocky Horror Picture Show (film)
  68. Frankenstein (novel) & The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel)
  69. Girl Rising (film) & Poetry of Maya Angelou (poetry)
  70. Girl Rising (film) & When I Hit You (novel)
  71. Hamlet (play) & A Monster Calls (novel/film)
  72. Hamlet (play) & Nutshell (novel)
  73. Hamlet (play) & The Lion King (film)
  74. Hiroshima (novel) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  75. Jasper Jones  (novel) & The Help (film)
  76. Jasper Jones (novel) & To Kill a Mockingbird (film)
  77. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  78. King Henry IV, Part I (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television show)
  79. King Richard II (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television show)
  80. Life of Pi (novel) & Castaway (film)
  81. Lord of the Flies (novel) & Where the Wild Things Are (film)
  82. Lord of the Flies (novel) & The Hunger Games (film)
  83. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Designated Survivor (television series)
  84. Macbeth (play) & The Dressmaker (film)
  85. Macbeth (play) & The Gods of Wheat Street (television series)
  86. Macbeth (play) & The Kite Runner (graphic novel, novel or film)
  87. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of House of Cards (television series)
  88. Macbeth (play) & Selected episodes of Scandal (television series)
  89. Maus (graphic novel) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  90. Maus (graphic novel) & Night (autobiography)
  91. Maus (graphic novel) & Schindler’s List (film)
  92. March (novel) & Little Wome(novel)
  93. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (novel) & The Fault in Our Stars (film)
  94. Night (autobiography) & A Long Way Gone (memoir)
  95. Night (autobiography) & Beatrice and Virgil (novel)
  96. Night (autobiography) & Girl At War (novel)
  97. Night (autobiography) & Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography)
  98. Night (autobiography) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  99. Night (autobiography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  100. Night (autobiography) & The Seven Stages of Grieving (play)
  101. Nona and Me (novel) & Looking for Alibrandi (film)
  102. Nona and Me (novel) & September (film)
  103. Of Mice and Men (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  104. Othello (play) & Boy Snow Bird (novel)
  105. Othello (play) & Desdemona (play)
  106. Othello (play) & Gone Girl (film)
  107. Othello (play) & Jasper Jones (novel)
  108. Othello (play) & New Boy (novel)
  109. Othello (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  110. Othello (play) & V For Vendetta (film)
  111. Over a Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Girl At War (novel)
  112. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  113. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Lion (film)
  114. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Maus (graphic novel)
  115. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Night (autobiography)
  116. Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You (biography) & Schindler’s List (film)
  117. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bride and Prejudice (film)
  118. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Bridget Jones’s Diary (film)
  119. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & Mustang (film)
  120. Pride & Prejudice (novel) & The Wedding Plan (film)
  121. Refugee Boy (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  122. Refugee Boy (novel) & The African Doctor (film)
  123. Refugee Boy (novel) & The Arrival (picture book)
  124. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Alex and Eve (film)
  125. Romeo & Juliet (play) & A United Kingdom (film)
  126. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  127. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Hairspray (film)
  128. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Meet the Patels (film)
  129. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Mustang (film)
  130. Romeo & Juliet (play) & My Big Fat Greek Wedding (film)
  131. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Tanna (film)
  132. Romeo & Juliet (play) & The Fault in Our Stars (film or novel)
  133. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Titanic (film)
  134. Romeo & Juliet (play) & Viceroy’s House (film)
  135. Romeo & Juliet (play) & West Side Story (film)
  136. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television show)
  137. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Green Bicycle (novel)
  138. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & The Kite Runner (novel or graphic novel)
  139. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Wadjda (film)
  140. Safana and Aunt Sarrinah (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  141. Scattered Lives (play) & Americannah (novel)
  142. Scattered Lives (play) & Freedom Writers (film)
  143. Scattered Lives (play) & Looking for Alibrandi (novel)
  144. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Peter Skrzynecki (poetry)
  145. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Selina Nwulu (poetry)
  146. Scattered Lives (play) & Poetry of Warsan Shire (poetry)
  147. Schindler’s Ark (novel) & Hotel Rwanda (film)
  148. Speak (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  149. Speak (novel) & The Lovely Bones (novel)
  150. Speak (novel) & The Scarlet Letter (novel)
  151. Speak (novel) & When I Hit You (novel)
  152. Stargirl (novel) & Wadjda (film)
  153. Station Eleven (novel) & A Midsummer Night’s Dream (play)
  154. Station Eleven (novel) & Hag-Seed (novel)
  155. Station Eleven (novel) & Never Let Me Go (novel or film)
  156. Station Eleven (novel) & The Tempest (play)
  157. Stolen (play) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  158. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  159. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (memoir) & Queen of Katwe (film)
  160. The Color Purple (novel) & For Colored Girls (film)
  161. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (novel) & Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (film)
  162. The Dreamer (novel) & Billy Elliot (film)
  163. The Drover’s Wife (play) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  164. The First Third (novel) & Boy (film)
  165. The Fault in Our Stars (novel) & Me and Earl and the Dying Girl (film)
  166. The Handmaid’s Tale (novel/television series) & Never Let me Go (novel/film)
  167. The Help (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  168. The Help (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  169. The Help (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  170. The Outsiders (novel) & Hunt for the Wilderpeople (film)
  171. The Outsiders (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  172. The Outsiders (novel) & Yolngu Boy (film)
  173. The Rabbits (picture book) & Deadly, Unna? (novel)
  174. The Rabbits (picture book) & Poetry of Oodgeroo Noonuccal (poetry)
  175. The Rabbits (picture book) & Rabbit-Proof Fence (film)
  176. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  177. The Real Inspector Hound (play) & And Then There Were None (novel)
  178. The Scarlet Letter (novel) & Easy A (film)
  179. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & The Real Inspector Hound (play)
  180. The Skull Beneath the Skin (novel) & Selected episodes of Trapped (television series)
  181. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (novel) & The Drover’s Wife (play)
  182. The Street Sweeper by Elliot Perlman (novel) & Freedom Writers (film)
  183. The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (novel) & Hamlet (play or film)
  184. The Kite Runner (novel) & Big Fish (film)
  185. The Kite Runner (novel) & Boy (film)
  186. The Queue (novel) & Animal Farm (novel)
  187. The Queue (novel) & Brave New World (novel)
  188. The Queue (novel) & Fahrenheit 451 (novel/film)
  189. The Queue (novel) & Nineteen Eighty-Four (novel)
  190. The Queue (novel) & Persepolis (film/graphic novel)
  191. ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ (short story) & Icarus Girl (novel)
  192. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & A United Kingdom (film)
  193. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Hairspray (film)
  194. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Poetry of Langston Hughes (poetry)
  195. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Jasper Jones (novel)
  196. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Remember the Titans (film)
  197. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & Selected episodes of Redfern Now (television series)
  198. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Blindside (film)
  199. To Kill a Mockingbird (novel) & The Help (film)
  200. To This Day (graphic novel) & Wonder (novel)
  201. To This Day (graphic novel) & Face (novel)
  202. Vernon God Little (novel) & Elephant (film)
  203. Vinegar Girl (novel) & The Taming of the Shrew (play)
  204. Vinegar Girl (novel) & 10 Things I Hate About You (film)
  205. Voices from Chernobyl (non-fiction) & Grave of the Fireflies (film)
  206. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)
  207. War Horse (film) & Poetry of Wilfred Owen (poetry)

War and gender

6 Mar

In previous years, I have taught a war poetry unit to Year 9.  For various reasons, including the creation of a new scope and sequence, I will not have an opportunity to teach war poetry this year.  Ever hopeful that an opportunity to do so will present itself next year, I still keep and eye out for interesting poems to add to the collection.

While looking for poetry about journeys, I happened upon Juan Felipe Herrera’s poem ‘War Voyeurs‘.  This poem appealed in that it explicitly engaged with the motivations for war.  In this sense, it serves as an interesting counterpoint to the poetry of Jessie Pope in which young men are urged to blindly head into battle.

It also interests me in that it explores war in explicitly gendered terms.  For this reason, it would serve as a good companion (again) to Jessie Pope’s poetry which often depicts the nation as feminine and thus worthy of protection.  However, Herrera’s poem goes further than Pope’s poems in that it seems to condemn the nexus between masculinity and violence more generally.  As such, it serves as a commentary on gender relationships just as much (if not more so) than it offers a scathing criticism of war.

 

Poetry about resilience

31 Jan

I have blogged on many previous occasions about using poetry to explore representations and constructions of gender (here and here, for example).  I have also previously blogged about using poetry as a means of introducing students to a diversity of Australian voices including those of refugees.  It dawned on me that there is often a thematic overlap between poetry that explores gender and poetry that explores the experiences of migrants and refugees.  What is this thematic overlap?  An emphasis on resilience, of course.

To illustrate this to my students, I am keen to have them compare Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise‘, Hani Abdile’s ‘I Will Rise‘ and one of the stories featured in Girl Rising.  I think I would begin by providing students with the titles of these texts only.  Using these titles, they will examine the subtle differences in language, hypothesising about the impact of these differences on meaning.  They will also discuss the connotations of the word ‘rise’.  Then, we would go through the texts one by one, starting with the oldest and working forward in time.  In each text, we would explore how resilience and gender are intertwined and represented.   After exploring these three texts, students would be given an opportunity to write their own ‘rise’ poem.

Gender and violence

18 Jan

The 7 – 10 English syllabus offers opportunities for teachers to select texts that encourage students to better understand upon their world and discuss issues that matter. Indeed, literature enables us to walk in the shoes of others without having to actually experience that trauma ourselves.

With this in mind, I think it is important that we do build discussion of these big issues into our lessons.  After all, without this exposure and discussion, how are students meant to develop their knowledge and calibrate their morals and ethics?

One issue that I think is hugely important to discuss is domestic and sexual violence.  Abe Nouk’s poem entitled ‘Black Eye‘ offers a way to kick-start this discussion.  Particularly, the poem touches upon the role of bystanders, physical violence, the psychological hold an abuser can have over his victim, the victim’s belief that the abuser will change and the victim’s belief that the actions are somehow her fault.

Another interesting text is Elizabeth Acevedo’s poem entitled ‘Spear‘.  In this text, Acevedo posits the existence of a hypothetical daughter and discusses how she will have to raise that daughter in order to withstand the realities of a world in which “we women must practise how to lose our daughters” to violence and exploitation.

Unaware of these two poems (and realistic about my students’ abilities to appreciate the second), I have broached gender and gendered violence through the study of Craig Silvey’s The Amber Amulet with a junior class.   In that text, domestic violence is implied rather than explicitly discussed.  Nonetheless, I took the opportunity to have a discussion with my students about how experiences were represented and how people could respond.

Yet another option for exploring issues of social significance is through the examination of public service announcements.  One example of this is CARE Norway’s ‘Not All Men Are Men‘ campaign.  Here, the message is that men who hit women are not really men.  This is cleverly captured by re-labelling each man as the item of furniture which the abused women have lied about bumping into.

‘Real Men’

10 Jan

I have written previously about poetry and gender, with a particular emphasis on the way in which poets construct representations of masculinity and femininity.  Harry Baker’s spoken word poem ‘Real Men‘ would be a great addition to my existing list of poems that engage with gender.  It would be a particularly interesting poem to study alongside Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’ and Amir Sulaiman’s ‘She Said’ (see here) as it directly engages with perceptions and realities of masculinity.

The poem is also interesting as it uses distinctively gendered language.  In this sense, it could be viewed as a companion piece to the ‘Like a Girl‘ commercial/PSA.