Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Bhav---> #10 Boo-etry

Poetry is not my cup of tea...(yeah boo away...given im a lit major and now "hoping" to impart my "immense" literary knowledge to the impressionable minds of today's youth)

Anyway...This assignment has forced me to look at poetry..and given its not really a graded assignment i think the lack of pressure helped! Somehow Poetry doesn't seem as intimidating or foreign as it used to be...of course this could also be because im older more mature and therefore so much wiser..ahem...
The list I've collated are not necessarily my favourite poems so much as poems that might be secondary school-friendly...

The pictures, inspired by HQ's post, are there just for visual pleasure...and well they're supposed to represent either the title or some element of the poem!

So *Drumroll*..................................

#1 William Shakespeare: Sonnet 130

Couldn’t resist Shakespeare plus I think its the easiest and most fun of his sonnets

Teaching Elements: Form (Sonnet Structure) Irony, Parody, Satire, Metaphor, Similie and Tone.

#2 E.E. Cummings: I carry your heart in my heart

I love this poem. It’s simplicity is just to heart warming. It can be easily read, easily spoken and most importantly for students, easily understood. Who can’t relate to love?

Teaching Elements: Form (Similar to a Sonnet?), Genre( What kind of Love), Tone

#3 Shel Silverstein: Where the Sidewalk Ends

A utopian poem? Or Maybe an escapist one. Whatever the case, it calls for a rebirth of that childlike sense of wonder in the heart. It urges to visit that place beyond our worries, beyond ourselves perhaps, and grow again into that spirit of innocence, and truly enjoy life!

Teaching Elements: Imagery, tone, metaphor

#4 Rudyard Kipling: IF

A didactic poem which talks about manhood and leadership.

Teaching Elements: Paradox, tone, meter, Iambic Pentameter and rhyme

#5 Edgar Allen Poe: Annabel Lee

I love poems that talk about death. Something so alluring about morbidity

Teaching Element: We can talk about the different rhyme scheme. Introduce the form of a ballad.

#6 As I Grew Older: Langston Hughes

The speaker defines the loss of his dreams as a suffocating shadow, a wall that allows no passage. So the poem considers the importance of dreams

Teaching Element: Metaphoric Language

#7 W.B.Yeats: The Young Man's Song (Penny Brown)

Yeats wraps up his story of the brown penny with an untold ending which reflects the complex combination of hesitance and venture about falling in love, just as the two sides of a brown penny existing weirdly and reasonably within one.

Teaching Elements: Mastery of language, metaphors, imagery

#8 Robert Frost: Fire and Ice

The poem deals with the age old burning (pun intended) curiosity as to how the world will eventually end.

Teaching Elements: Rhyme, Iambic Pentameter, Enjambment

#9: Faiz Ahmed Faiz : Be Near Me

A little intense, so often so much is lost in translation; but this poem holds true to its intended form

Teaching Elements: Theme of Love and Heartache, Form of Ghazal

#10: William Carlos Williams : Winter Trees

The poem is about trees having lost their leaves in preparation to winter. The emotions, the melancholy, the peace, the hope... so many clear parallels with human existence. It is simply a glimpse of the wondrous cycle of life.

Teaching Elements: Personification, Mood, Tone, Images, Metaphor

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Huaqi > My 10 poems

It was rather difficult getting 10 poems up, made all the harder by my brilliant colleagues (yes, that's you, if you buy me coffee Monday). But I have narrowed my list down to these, hopefully without repeating any poems posted so we have a diverse and useful resource. I've also included picture of these poets so you can decide on their readability based on their looks.


1. W. H. Auden: Musée des Beaux Arts

There is a strong tension between the comic and tragic here, and an interesting response to art through art, and in the process exploring the relationship between life and story.

Brueghel's Icarus

Aspects of poetry: tone, imagery
Level: Sec 3-4


2. Wallace Stevens: The Snow Man

Perhaps one of the greatest poems on perception, interpretation and existence, The Snow Man is, to my mind, also a question: how does poetry relate to reality?

Aspects of poetry: sound mechanics (vowels), imagery
Level: Sec 3-4

3. Wallace Stevens: Anecdote of the Jar

Another poem on the centrality of interpretation in our understanding of the world around us, it is also a critique of the relationship between humankind and the natural environment.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, rhyme, form/function, allegory
Level: Sec 2-4


4. Philip Larkin: Nothing to be Said

There's nothing like a pessimistic, inevitability-of-death poem to start any day of the week.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, rhythm, the human condition
Level: Sec 3-4

5. Wendy Cope: Flowers

The poem builds towards one precise moment of bittersweet irony.

Aspects of poetry: irony, symbol
Level: Sec 2-3


6. Percy Bysshe Shelley: Ozymandias

The intensity of the images and the powerful twist at the end makes this the sonnet I remember best.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, sonnet, volta, rhyme scheme, loose form
Level: Sec 2-3


7. Lord Alfred Tennyson: Tears, Idle Tears

A beautiful poem about irreversible passage of time, mourning an irretrievable past.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, sound mechanics (vowels), the elegiac, the human condition
Level: Sec 3-4


8. Christina Rossetti: In an Artist's Studio

About art gone wrong, and the high cost of living in the moment captured.

Aspects of poetry: sonnet, rhyme scheme, volta, tragic hero, representation (silence)
Level: Sec 2-3


9. Li-Young Lee: From Blossoms

An amazingly uplifting poem without any resemblance to the blind optimism of your local Carebears Convention.

Aspects of poetry: repetition, rhythm, imagery, enjambment
Level: Sec 2-3


10. William Carlos Williams: Complete Destruction

Intense grief and anger masked by a cold detachment - all in an 8 line, 33 word poem.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, enjambment
Level: Sec 2


+1 Michael Ondaatje: Bearhug

To cover for doubling up on The Snow Man, here's another one.

Aspects of poetry: imagery, form/function
Level: Sec 2

Friday, 25 March 2011

Anita's list of 10.

1) After the Fire by Boey Kim Cheng http://www.cerisepress.com/01/03/kim-cheng-boey-after-the-fire

Probably a lesson on imagery for the lower secondary. With a sombre mood set, perhaps, I can then do a follow up activity by making them reflect on their relationships with their loved ones?

2) Cartoon, the coffee shop boy by Kirpal Singh
Alone, legs crossed, you sit,

Newspaper in left hand,
A glass of coffee in the right.
In between sips you read.
Read, the news of happenings around you,
Of people, places and things…
But who shall read your news,
Your thoughts, your face, your eyes?
You put on a pleasant face,
When people call you ‘Cartoon’.
Nay, worse names than that
Have you been called.
Many a time have you remained calm
In the face of interruptions of “one coffee” while you ate.
Do you not get fed-up?
Do you not get bored?
Do you not get angry?
Do you not get --?
What more can I ask,
When you tell me to keep quiet?
You are resigned you say
To the life of a coffee-shop boy.

Would use this to introduce theme to lower secondary students.

3) When we 2 parted by George Gordon, Lord Byron http://www.poetry-online.org/byron_when_we_two_parted.htm

4) Mirror by Sylvia Plath http://vmlinux.org/ilse/lit/plath.htm

Perhaps a lesson on subject and voice for the Upper Secondary Students

5) Dreams by Langston Hughes http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/dreams-2/

6) Phenomenol Woman by Maya Angelou http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/phenomenal-woman/

Feminism for Upper Secondary students

7) Cinderella by Anne Sexton http://www.units.muohio.edu/technologyandhumanities/sexton.htm

Satire. Lower Secondary. I think this poem is pretty fun.

8) Stamp Collecting by Boey Kim Cheng

Starting with Australia, she slides the stamps
behind the filmy strip, the album breathing
promise in its fresh gluey feel, the world
being collected and unfolding as it fills up
shelf by shelf. As her five-year-old fingers
gingerly slip the countries into place, the questions
spill out, like the stamps from an old album
I opened yesterday, forgotten pressed flowers
of a time when the world arrived
in a philatelic queue, surviving
emblems from my stamp-mad phase.
Is Australia our home?
What is this country? Why doesn't it exist
anymore? Why is the Queen's face
on the stamps of so many nations?
We finger an atlas
of vanished countries: CCCP, Yugoslavia
East Germany, Rhodesia, Malaya,
my childhood coming into place
under her learning fingers.

I remember the thrill as my fingers walked
the filmy rows, past the flora and fauna,
the faces of presidents and royalties,
gleaning a sense of a world out there
from the passage of stamps.
Those were my first travels,
transported on those serrated tokens
beyond the one-room flat
in Geylang Bahru
to the origins of those couriers.
The years of collecting culminated
in three bountiful, loaded albums
tokens that brought those countries,
their histories and languages
to my fingertips.

I want to bequeath my daughter the albums
whole, the worlds I found and arranged,
but they have diminished to this half-filled, yellowed
album, proudly marked 1973, owned
bilingually in English and Chinese.

A few stamps have slipped from their moorings
and some lodge in the wrong countries;
others like the Burmese row still sit
faithfully in place. The missing ranks lost,
like many other things,
in transit, between houses, countries
and lives.
But in a strange way they are here,
all of the missing stamps and years,
the way those vanished republics
emerge in the atlas with new names,
present as my daughter picks
the last of a Singapore series
when it was still part of Malaya,
fingers the face of a youthful Elizabeth
pendant over a Chinese junk,
and slips it home.

9) Courage by Anne Sexton http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/annesexton/567

10) All that is Gold does not Glitter by John Ronald Reuel Tokein http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/all-that-is-gold-does-not-glitter/

Yan's Poetry Archive

Albeit only ten poems hehe. i personally like modern poetry and pretty much like teaching local poetry because students are able to connect with them better.

So here's my list:

1. Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

I like how the coldness of death is portrayed in this poem and how the environment plays a part in setting the mood and characterizing 'Death', which is a universal theme. It's also interesting because spring usually symbolizes a new beginning/'Life'.

2. The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams

Because this poem is so vivid (and cute), i can ask students to draw a picture based on their intepretation of this poem, perhaps paying special attention to the use of colours.

3. The Snow Man by Wallace Stevens

Using this poem to teach about poetry as an experiential thing and to read between the lines ("Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is").

4. A Woman's Shortcomings by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Basically how woman/femininity is played up/stereotyped.

5. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Mainly used for questioning (eg. what was the road not taken? why did he take the road "less traveled by"?)

6. in time of daffodils by E.E. Cummings

Notion of time. Will it be different if other flowers or objects are used instead? How will it change the meaning/feeling of the poem?

7. Haiku (Never Published) by Allen Ginsberg

Can be used to teach beat poems and compare with traditional haiku. Can ask students to write their own haikus as a post-activity.

8. From a College Window by D.H. Lawrence

Perspective-taking and point of view. Since this poem is about a student's perspective, can get students to discuss their fears/feelings of this world compared to when they were younger. How their views may change as they get older?

9. Singapore River by Lee Tzu Pheng

This poem can be used to teach personification and i think it's good for weaker students or lower levels as the content is fairy easy to deal with.

10. Void Deck by Alfian Sa'at

A very singaporean living experience that most students are able to relate to. i previously taught this and explored space constraint (how HBD flats are getting smaller and how everyone is compartmentalized and identified by their unit number etc.) as a bigger theme of this poem. Might be a little controversial but then again, it depends on your teaching approach.

That's all folks!

Siti A - TEN poems I've recently discovered!

This is the hardest assignment so far!! Only because it's poetry ... since I don't read them much. heh. I'm posting this list since they were introduced to me, I read it, I liked it so I'm just posting this list first.

I've read more poems these few days than I've read in my entire life! So I need time to analyse and think about how I'll teach these poems.

(1) This is just to say - William Carlos Williams
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold
(2) Bloody men - Wendy Cope

Bloody men are like bloody buses -
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read the destination,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours, the days.

(3) A slumber did my spirit seal - William Wordsworth
(4) I wandered lonely as a cloud - William Wordsworth
(5) Poison tree - William Blake
(6) Acquainted with the night - Robert Frost
(7) The temporary face - Imtiaz Dharker

(8) Life is but a dream - Lewis Carroll
(9) A dream within a dream - Edgar Allan Poe
(10) When the sidewalk ends - Shel Silverstein

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Nisha's Top 10 PG 13 poems

These are some of my favorite poets. Most of them deal with realism. I’ve chosen some of their poems that might come useful in classrooms? I am not too good in classifying poems. So, let’s see...


Cotton candy on a rainy day (Nikki Giovanni)

Free Verse

More experiential

Secondary 2


Mother to son by Langston Huges

Free Verse again?


All levels


Dream Deferred by Langston Huges

Oh no, I think all of them can be free verse.


Secondary 3


Daddy by Sylvia Plath

Historical Drama (based on a Google search) but I think it can be modernist (stream of consciousness)?

Drama/Pain so is it experiential?

Secondary 4


Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard

Free Verse


Secondary 4


Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

Prose as poem

Routine and beauty

Secondary 3


A supermarket in California by Allen Ginsberg


Fun, let-loose kind of feel (Beat Writers)

Secondary 4


Haiku by Jack Kerouac

Self reflective?

All levels


Autumn Song by Katherine Mansfield


Secondary 2


We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

Free Verse


Secondary 4

Sharyl's Top 10 countdown

  1. William Shakespeare - Venus And Adonis
  2. Mina Loy - Lunar Baedecker
  3. Jewel Kilcher - Untitled
  4. Anthony Keidis - Under The Bridge (Ok this one can be abit dodgy, but the song IS originally written as a poem by Keidis, and only made into song by producer Rick Rubin, so technically, it is a poem. XD)
  5. Cliff Burton - To Live Is To Die
    When a man lies he murders
    Some part of the world
    These are the pale deaths
    Which men miscall their lives
    All this I cannot bear
    To witness any longer
    Cannot the kingdom of salvation
    Take me home
  6. Oscar Wilde - The Harlot's House
  7. Andrew Marvell - To His Coy Mistress
  8. Marilyn Manson - Hotel Hallucinogen
  9. Elsa Knöpke - Paint Me Ugly

    Don't wanna feel your skin recoil from mine
    Don't paint me ugly darling I can do that by myself.

    Walk on the water.
    Walk on my pain and find nothing on the inside
    Don't close your eyes to love me, don't despise me
    Come on and hurt me, just
    Don't paint me ugly, I can do that by myself.

    I know, oh baby I know I ain't no rose.
    But you're my life and you can make me what I want to be
    You can paint me burning in the sun,
    Come on and hurt me, just
    Don't paint me ugly darling I can do that by myself

    You can fool my senses, and rub my edges
    Transform me into a bouquet of dying flowers
    Colour-wash me in a black thundercloud
    Come on and hurt me, just
    Don't paint me ugly baby I can do that by myself.

    I see it in the sad eyes of old lovers
    She has turned to dust and her lovely body fade to grey
    I gave my youth to the seasons
    Come on and hurt me, just
    Don't paint me ugly darling I can do that by myself.

    Don't wanna lurk beside you like a shadow
    Don't want to see you turn away or walk down darkened streets.
    I want to walk beside you in the sunshine
    Come on and hurt me, just
    Don't paint me ugly baby I can do that my myself.
  10. Wong May - Only The Moon

10 poems

These are my 10 poems, those they're mostly my faves for the moment. (I'm fickle :D ).

I happened to chance upon Gilbert Koh's blog and I read a few of his poems. I really like the following few and I think the themes are quite good for use in a secondary classroom!

 1) This poem is about spousal abuse. (I remember when we tackled an activity with this theme in QCE520. Luka: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1903x_suzanne-vega-luka_music)

The Couple Next Door      Gilbert Koh

2) I like how this poem ties in with the theme of migrant workers in Singapore.Good way to get discussions going in the classroom.
Construction             Gilbert Koh

3) I've felt very uncomfortable after visiting some old folks home here in Singapore, where they ill-treat the elderly.This poem not only tackles the problem of Singapore's aging population but also questions whether CCA truely benefits the people it says it is helping. 
(Also look at: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/robert_frost/poems/602
An Old Man's Winter Night by Robert Frost)

Old Folks Home

All day long they lie on the
straight rows of white beds or sit
in the heavy-duty wheelchairs
pushed out into the breezy sunshine
of the gardens.

Resigned to the prisons
of their own failing bodies,
they drift in and out of the haze
of senility, half-forgetting
themselves in the patient wait
for death.

Still the bright-eyed teenagers come,
on Saturday mornings, by the busloads,
sent by their schools
on compulsory excursions
to learn the meaning
of compassion
as outlined in the ECA syllabus.

They bring gifts of Khong Guan biscuits,
they help to mow the lawns,
they clap their hands performing happy songs
and valiantly they attempt the old dialects
trying to communicate.

Later they will clamber noisily
back up the departing school buses,
and next week in class
they will write startlingly
similar essays
on what a meaningful,
memorable experience they had
at the old folks' home
last week.

 4) I'm evil I know, but i was drawn to how LKY was being portrayed in this poem. Startling similarities to Genesis where God says "Let there be light".

Garden City           By Gilbert Koh     
Let there be trees, the man said, and lo and behold,
there were trees – rain trees, angsanas, flames of the forest,
causarinas, traveller’s palms and more – springing up against
the steel and concrete of the expanding city.
Even as the true towers of the city climbed higher
and higher for the heavens, the trees were planted, replanted,
transplanted, watered, fertilised, and groomed to grow
and grow. They appeared overnight, abandoned the
chaos of jungle, bent to the will of man, grew in straight lines,
in squares and rectangles, in allocated corners,
in car parks, along highways, outside banks and buildings,
faithful to the commandments of urban developers.
The hard lines of architecture were softened,
the rain did fall, the green did gently, gently grow,
and in his seventieth year, the man was pleased,
as he rested, as he viewed his work, as he felt the weight
of a nation’s soil run slowly through his old green hands.

 5) I was browsing through Davina's poems and I got entranced by this poet's works. Very beautiful and vivid imagery. I love how delicate the poem sounds but yet how rich it is in emotions.

Autumn Song by Sarojini Naidu

 6) I love how identity is being portrayed here. Or dare I say the lack of an identity? Perfect for students undergoing identity confusion.

Emily Dickinson

I'm Nobody! Who are you?
Are you -- Nobody -- Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise -- you know!

How dreary -- to be -- Somebody!
How public -- like a Frog --
To tell one's name -- the livelong June --
To an admiring Bog!

 7) I think the idea that a woman has to hide her flaws for someone, who is only interested in her surface beauty, is intriguing-How beauty is socially portrayed and how a woman has to rely on her beauty.

 Emily Dickinson

A charm invests a face
Imperfectly beheld.
The lady dare not lift her veil
For fear it be dispelled.

But peers beyond her mesh,
And wishes, and denies,
'Lest interview annul a want
That image satisfies.

8) Since I read Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale and the rose (http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/NigRos.shtml), the haunting image of a bird dying to fulfill an impossible dream has been etched in my mind. In this poem, I was reminded of this Oscar wilde's story and this image of a poor aged bird whose hope is so brittle but yet persists in singing that 1 last song of hope.

The Darkling Thrush by Thomas Hardy

9) I love the colors and vivid imagery in this poem. 

Robert frost

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
10) This is a very short and 'simple' poem that is rich in imagery and allusions to Dante's Inferno.The Juxtaposition of fire and ice, desire and hate is intriguing.
Fire and Ice by Robert Frost