Creating a Voice in Poetry
Discuss how the poets create voices in their work. Write about
Reports and one other poem.
The poem 'Reports' focuses on one teachers cynical approach on writing
school reports. This didactic poem take full advantage of using the
imperative and pragmatics, as well as manipulating graphological
features, such as the use of italics to indicate quotations. The poem
is also written as a monologue, showing one side of a conversation,
allowing the reader to focus on the opinions and character of an
individual... in this case the school teacher. Similarly, this method
is used in Carol Ann Duffy's poem 'Head of English', taken from 'Standing
Female Nude.' ...view middle of the document...
The hints of sarcasm are then backed up between lines three
and five, when the teacher says;
we're going to witness verse hot from the press.
The first sentence suggests that the teacher is testing the poet. On
the surface it seems as if she is trying to enthuse the pupils,
although the pragmatics suggest that she is testing the poet, almost
challenging the poet. Then the second sentence, "Who knows.", backs up
the readers thoughts of the teacher. Intriguingly the poet has
manipulated the language again by using a full stop to end a sentence
that would normally be a question. I feel that this has been done to
express the character of the teacher. It is not intended to be a
question because the teacher has no intention for an answer, in fact
the reader doubts if she ever intends for answers. We cannot determine
if the statement is directed towards the poet or the pupils, either
way the Head of English is trying to show her superiority (in her
The poem continues to lay out the teachers values and attitudes to
pupils, schools and more importantly modern poetry. In the second
stanza the voice, shows a discontent for modern poetry. We see the
first example of the teacher trying to show off her knowledge of
English in line eight. She uses the word "assonance" to try and link
the visit to previous English lessons, however the pragmatics suggest
that the teacher is showing off her ability to use the English
language and trying to impress (or even subtly trying to degrade)
either colleagues, students or indeed the visitor. The reader also
gets to see the teachers opinion on modern poetry.
" ...not all poems,
sadly, rhyme these days. Still. Never mind."
The neutral sentence would have been 'not all poems rhyme these days'
however, the use, and indeed positioning, of the word "sadly" suggests
that the teacher feels a degree of negativity towards the contrast in
the poetry of her generation and the poetry that has come about over
more recent years. This could be read as another dig at the poet in
the teachers company, as Duffy makes little attempt to use rhyme in
her poem, possibly to act as a contrast to the opinions of the
character in the stanza's. The reader could draw the conclusion that
the Head of English disregards modern poetry and as it doesn't match
her values when it comes to 'good' poetry, it isn't worth studying.
The stanza ends by confirming to the reader the teachers opinion of
the visit. Line twelve shows the reader that the teacher feels
aggrieved that she has had to pay out of her budget for the services
of the poet. The reader can really imagine and sense the phonetics of
the sentence, and can imagine the teacher saying it. It also relays
the message that the teacher wants to get everything she can from the
poet, she wants to get her money's worth.
Stanza four shows off the capabilities of the English teacher as far
as manipulating the language...