GCSE Poetry

I loved AR’s memories of her Leaving Cert poetry last week, and it got me thinking about the dreaded English Lit Anthology I lugged about for the two years of my GCSEs. At the time, I wasn’t the biggest poetry fan in the world-I loved talking about it in class, and finding hidden meanings within it, but it wasn’t until I went to see the poets perform their work that I actually got it.I remember going to see the poets from out Anthology performing in Manchester at a special event for students and forming a lovely 15-year-old’s crush on Simon Armitage-who, to be honest I still have a small spot for. I also remember John Cooper Clark performing ‘I wanna be yours’ at 100 miles an hour to rapteous applause and thinking at the time for me revolutionary thoughts about how words should elevate and captivate, and how performance has power. I think I learnt more about poetry on that one day than I ever did in the two years of writing ‘A, B, A, C, C’ next to lines in class.

So here are some of my favourites that I studied, reading them again takes me back to a time my skin still stretched and I still knew all my friend’s phone numbers off by heart…

About His Person by Simon Armitage

Five pounds fifty in change, exactly,
a library card on its date of expiry.

A postcard stamped,
unwritten, but franked,

a pocket size diary slashed with a pencil
from March twenty-fourth to the first of April.

A brace of keys for a mortise lock,
an analogue watch, self winding, stopped.

A final demand
in his own hand,

a rolled up note of explanation
planted there like a spray carnation

but beheaded, in his fist.
A shopping list.

A givaway photgraph stashed in his wallet,
a keepsake banked in the heart of a locket.

no gold or silver,
but crowning one finger

a ring of white unweathered skin.
That was everything.

Unrelated Incidents by Tom Leonard
this is thi
six a clock
news thi
man said n
thi reason
a talk wia
BBC accent
iz coz yi
widny wahnt
mi ti talk
aboot thi
trooth wia
voice lik
wanna yoo
scruff. if
a toktaboot
thi trooth
lik wanna yoo
scruff yi
widny thingk
it wuz troo.
jist wanna you
scruff tokn.
thirza right
way ti spell
ana right way
to tok it. this
is me tokn yir
right way a
spellin. this
is ma trooth.
yooz doant no
thi trooth
yirsellz cawz
yi canny talk
right. this is
the six a clock
nyooz. belt up.

I Wanna Be Yours by John Cooper Clarke

I wanna be your vacuum cleaner
Breathing in your dust,
I wanna be your Ford Cortina
I will never rust,
If you like your coffee hot
Let me be your coffee pot,
You call the shots,
I wanna be yours.

I wanna be your raincoat
For those frequent rainy days,
I wanna be your dreamboat
When you want to sail away,
Let me be your teddy bear
Take me with you anywhere,
I don’t care,
I wanna be yours.

I wanna be your electric meter
I will not run out,
I wanna be the electric heater
You’ll get cold without,
I wanna be your setting lotion
Hold your hair in deep devotion,
Deep as the deep Atlantic ocean
That’s how deep is my devotion.

Deep deep deep de deep deep de deep deep
I don’t wanna be her’s
I wanna be yours!

School Days Over


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