Monday, May 31, 2010

Voices of Poetry 2010

Last night in a hushed and darkened BSR we had one of our highlights of the year, the Voices of Poetry evening. Presented and put together again by Mr Ronan Swift, it featured the usual blend of English and foreign language poetry.

Kicking off dramatically was Michael Kemp, with 'I Am', which was recently Highly Commended in the Teaching English magazine national poetry competition. He was followed by a poem from Sappho read by our only current pupil of Ancient Greek, Ludo Stewart, 'The Crush' (followed by a translation read by Sarah Whelan). Arthur Moffitt then gave a compelling reading of Gary Soto's beautiful 'Oranges'. Spanish (Imogen Wardell), French (Victor Wachs), Dutch (Eireann Tinkhof) and Ibo (Ike Onwurah) were next up.

The next section featured poems written under the theme 'Creatures' for the recent Junior Poetry Prize, all of which have been posted here: 'Teenagers' by Philippa Carroll, 'The Spider' by Alexandra Boyd Crotty, 'We are They' by Duncan Mathews, and two poems by the winner of the Prize, Mark Russell, 'Piglets' and 'In our Attic'. These were followed by poems in Portguese (Eugenia Perez), German (Chris Faerber), Chinese (Lingfan Gao) and Russian (Igor Verkhovskiy).

Mr Girdham then talked about our new book, Outside the Frame (several poems read out are in it), and read his own poem 'Here and There' composed as a response to Patrick Faulkner's front cover photograph. This photograph, along with images from the next few poems, was projected on a screen. Four poems from the TY Images in Poetry followed: Ms Smith reading Kate Boyd Crotty's 'Ophelia and the Guard', Kate herself reading Sophie Millar's 'Lake Thun', Olivia Plunket reading 'Judith and Holofernes' (recently award 3= prize in the Teaching English poetry competition), and Patrick Tice 'Under Umbrellas'.

The final part of the evening started with Siobhan Brady's reading of 'Donal Og', followed by Molly Dunne's translation, and then pupils who are or once were in Primary: Archie Brooke (Latin, from Ovid's Metamorphoses, Marta Carlotti (Italian), Kaila Korschen (Swahili) and Senior Prefect Alec Cherry (Christina Rossetti's 'O Sailor Come Ashore').

Finally, Olivia Plunket, winner of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry this year (pictured) read her poem 'Drops', Mr Canning read former colleague Morgan Dockrell's poem based on the names of cricketers in the pavilion who also died in the World Wars, and John Clarke from I form ended the evening powerfully with his perfectly-learnt rendition of 'Weathers' by Thomas Hardy. John was earlier this year a semi-finalist in the Poetry Aloud competition.

Another lovely evening, and sincere thanks to Mr Swift for putting it all together.

'Here and There'

A poetic response to Patrick Faulkner's evocative photograph (above) which features on the front cover of our new book, Outside the Frame, a collection of writings from this blog over the last two years.

Here and There

What is it you wish to say
as you lean towards him?
Why did you leave your chair
to perch and tilt on the wall?

Out there,
the April sun is building its heat,
your friend Latif is kicking a ball,
a morning breeze dishevels the sea.

But here,
here there is nothing -
the courtyard empty and still -
only the paper’s occasional rustle.

Rest easy:
in just a moment
he will fold it and lay it down, and
he will smile as he turns to you,
stretching his hand into the pool of light
to reach for your opening fingers.


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekly Twitter Summary

Selected tweets from the last week, with links to English language/literature and IT-related resources:-

  1. Jane Austen as a global brand via @msstewart
  2. RT @Larryferlazzo: New post "My Best Posts On Books: Why They’re Important & How To Help Students...."
  3. The Guardian children's fiction prize 2010
  4. Can you spot mistakes? Would you be a good proof-reader? Test yourself:
  5. All 6 'King Lear' revision podcasts now complete:
  6. Review of Bakker's 'The Twin': outstanding contender for #impac Award:
  7. All 6 'King Lear' revision podcasts now online:
  8. The last of 6 podcasts on 'King Lear' now posted: the end of the play. Good luck to all in the Leaving Cert...
  9. Lessons and Resources | 50 Years of "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  10. 50 iconic book covers (from Abebooks):
  11. Is there any more intelligent book on Shakespeare? Tony Tanner's Everyman introductions, collected at last:
  12. Good to see reopened local bookshop tweeting @Hughes_Dundrum.
  13. J.D.Salinger:
  14. An enjoyable production: RT @MillTheatre: Dancing at Lughnasa almost sold out tonight.
  15. The new SCC English book now available: highlights from the blog - poems, essays, book recommendations, essays.
  16. Igloo Animations from Digital Hub work with Irish software company on Romeo & Juliet App now on iPad RT @TheDigitalHub
  17. @Luludotcom : thanks for the RT - delighted with our book!
  18. RT @PoetryArchive: Check out the Poetry Foundation's new iPhone app: Take hundreds of poems with you
  19. The Best Free Apps for Education: Apple iPod Touch Apps for Language Arts Teachers:
  20. 'Outside the Frame', our second book from SCC English blog, just published. Excellent service, quality @luludotcom.
  21. Why has 'panini' become singular? "I'll have one panini, please."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mrs Haslett's Library Selection

Featured on display in the Library at the moment is Mrs Haslett's selection of her favourite and formative books. This is the third such staff selection, following Mr McCarthy's and Mr Jackson's (both of which are reprinted in our new book, Outside the Frame. The display is accompanied by Mrs Haslett's comments on the books, which you can read here.

Her books are:
  • Venice, by Jan Morris
  • Lives of the Artists, by Giorgio Vasari
  • The Great War and Modern Memory, by Paul Fussell
  • Atonement, by Ian McEwan
  • If This is a Man, by Primo Levi
  • Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
  • Thomas Hardy: the time-worn man, by Claire Tomalin
  • Reformation: Europe's house divided, by Diarmaid MacCullough
  • Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
  • The Master, by Colm Toibin
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  • The Laurel and the Ivy, by Robert Kee
We'll feature other staff selections as they are displayed in the coming years. It's a fine idea by Librarian Tom McConville.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The 6 'King Lear' revision podcasts

Here are all 6 King Lear revision podcasts in a list (you can also access them via the diagonal banner on the top right):

Click on the titles to listen:-

1. The opening scene (April 23rd)
2. The play's bleak vision (April 30th)
3. The Good Guys - Kent and Albany (May 6th)
4. Quotation auto-test (May 17th)
5. Blindness and seeing (May 22nd)
6. The End of the Play (May 27th)

You can listen to these talks via the player on each post, or the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Thursday, May 27, 2010

King Lear revision podcast 6: the end of the play

Our 23rd podcast is the final one of 6 on King Lear. This looks at the end of the play, considering how the famously bleak ending is constructed by Shakespeare. Lear so nearly becomes a play with a comic ending (like its sources and Nahum Tate’s rewritten 1681 version). Instead, there is no mitigation: all is dark horror.

To read Tate’s version, click here (go to page 66 for the ending).

To see a summary of the previous 5 King Lear podcasts, click here.

Listen to the podcast via the player below:

You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

'Dancing at Lughnasa' at the Mill

Last night half our V form went to the Mill Theatre in Dundrum to see Rathfarnham Theatre Group's production of Brian Friel's Dancing at Lughnasa, which V are studying for their comparative module (the rest go tonight). An amateur production, it has a good deal going for it, being quick-paced and solidly acted: worth seeing if you're studying the play at the moment.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Our New Book

We're delighted to announce the publication of our second book, Outside the Frame, a selection of writing by pupils and staff from this blog over the last two years. It's in the same vein as Going Places, which we published in May 2008. Look at a preview of the cover, contents pages and preface here.

The book is 165 pages long, and features writing by over 90 pupils, and 8 staff, all of which was first posted on this site. The lovely front cover is a photograph by Patrick Faulkner, and the back one, contrasting and distinctive, is by TY pupil Jack Cherry.

It can be bought directly from our Lulu storefront here, or for €10 (excluding p/p) directly from the school: email us at scc.english 'at'

Monday, May 24, 2010


Strolling through the unIrish sunshine in Kilkenny yesterday, we came across another matter of concern (pictured) for the Campaign for the Removal of English Errors in Public. Our main concern here is not so much the all-too-familiar intrusive apostrophe in the first word, as the way that in the second, erroneous English punctuation has invaded a foreign language. In Italian, a grilled sandwich is a panino, plural panini, but now we apparently have something like, er, panini'ni. Coming shortly, a new series of posts called CREPI (Campaign for the Removal of Errors in Punctuation in Italian).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Weekly Twitter Summary

  1.  'How English became the world's language' : 
  2. 'Four go mad in Gatwick': Rave review for Alan Warner's new novel- 
  3. Dr Ewan Fernie on the demonic in Macbeth - podcast part of a NEW series giving background to the plays
  4. 'King Lear' podcast 5 now available on SCC English blog: 'blindness and seeing in the play'. 
  5. Animal Allotment. #lesserbooks 
  6. WILLIS MEMORIAL SHAKESPEARE PRIZE: congratulations to the winner, Fiona Boyd. 
  7. A new essay on the late Alan Sillitoe, and 'The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner': 
  8. Poetry - there's an app for that. @PoetryFound launches free iPhone app
  9. A tenderly-written, haunting masterpiece: review of Gerbrand Bakker's 'The Twin': 
  10. Is the internet doing real harm to our brains? 
  11. Looking forward to rereading: RT @GuardianBooks: JG Farrell's Lost Man Booker prize for Troubles- literary resurrection 
  12. 18 Novels set in Boarding Schools (revised):
  13. The Poetry Society's Poem of the Month is Dennis O'Driscoll's 'Revenue Choir': 
  14. Just sent off for test copies of our second book from @Luludotcom. Excitement! 
  15. '5 Things You Didn't Know about the Romantics': 
  16. Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry. Winner 2010 - Olivia Plunket: 
  17. Podcast on War Poetry from Sunday Times Literary Festival feat. Tim Kendal and Jon Stallworthy now online:
  18. Well introduced Simon, and ta for the mention! RT @simonmlewis: New Post:: Twitter Workshop Podcast 
  19. The new Faber Podcast features historian James Shapiro and novelist Maria McCann - listen at
  20. [ Her book 'Venice' still shines after all these years] A Perpetual Love Affair – Jan Morris's Venice RT @GuardianBooks 
  21. 'How to Name a Volcano' from The Oatmeal: 
  22. Recommending our art department colleagues' blog: lots of lovely work - 
  23. 7 revision podcasts on 'Macbeth': 

Saturday, May 22, 2010

'Outside the Frame'

 Above, the front cover of our forthcoming book, being launched shortly. The photograph is by Photography Prize winner Patrick Faulkner. More before long.

A New Story

Ciara Conway from VI form has written a story as practice for her coming Leaving Certificate Paper I. It is one of several short stories which feature in our book Outside the Frame, which will be published shortly (it's currently at the printers). Full details about it early next week. Meanwhile, here is Ciara's story. It starts:

The narrow winding pathway that led to the house was exactly as Maria had remembered it. How many times had she run along it as a child, panting, her heart exploding with the stories and memories of each day. She stopped the car before the last bend. She was longing for this moment. She wanted to be that child again, the way she had been before things had changed, before her head had forever become swamped with confusion and sadness. She reached out to touch the soft honeysuckles, their scent flooding the car like the memories which were spinning through her mind.

The house came into view the second the car turned the bend. Her first thoughts were how unfamiliarly small it seemed. It had loomed in her memory but now its modesty somehow calmed her. The whitewash her father had always maintained was a layer of grey, patches of flakes hanging down sadly. The roof was beaten, the chimney slightly crocked and the shutters battered. Age and neglect had come to inhabit her childhood home. Yet the summer growth of willows and wild roses decorating the house facade gave it colour and some of its former dignity.

Click here for the full story.

Friday, May 21, 2010

King Lear revision podcast 5: blindness and seeing

SCC English podcast 22: Using the notorious scene in which Gloucester is blinded as a starting point, this talk looks at ideas of blindness and seeing throughout the play, particularly in the stories of the two old ‘blind’ men, Lear and Gloucester. Lear undergoes a humanising process of development, and starts to ’see’ real truths about himself and society; however, in the end this matters little, as he is exposed to devastating grief on the death of his daughter Cordelia.

Listen to the podcast via the player below:-

You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

'King Lear' revision podcasts

A summary of the five revision podcasts on King Lear now available to Leaving Cert candidates. Click on the titles to listen:-

1. The opening scene (April 23rd)
2. The play's bleak vision (April 30th)
3. The Good Guys - Kent and Albany (May 6th)
4. Quotation auto-test (May 17th)
5. Blindness and seeing (May22nd)

You can listen to these talks via the player on each post, or the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Shakespeare Prize 2010

Congratulations to Fiona Boyd, who has won this year's Willis Memorial Prize for Knowledge of Shakespeare. This is the final prize of 5 awarded by the English Department this year. There was a small field, but one of high quality, and Carl-Victor Wachs receives a Commendation. This prize is another indication of how important Shakespeare is to us as a Department (we also have a Shakespeare Society).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Alan Sillitoe

The writer Alan Sillitoe died on April 25th at the age of 82. Our Librarian, Tom McConville recently bought a copy of his famous collection The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner for the Library, and this prompted him to write an essay on the story, and on its importance for him in his own life.

This fine thoughtful personal literary analysis is now online here in full, and will also appear in our coming book, Outside the Frame (more soon):-

I first read The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner in prep school in late 60s England and its effect was immediate. We understood the principles of incarceration! Certainly we were familiar with the fundamental unfairness of authority, its contempt for the powerless, and knew that “honesty” was too often a means of social control rather than an end in itself. We knew about loneliness, bad food and boils, and we “missed our mams” just as Smith’s fellow inmates did. From time to time we were beaten, and actually heard the phrase “this is going to hurt me more than it hurts you” before the cane came whipping down. Of course, we knew we were young toffs, from the class Smith despised - if we doubted it we need only listen to the tales of the older boys’ summer’s-night fights with the townies in the woods at the edge of the school, and understood that it would be our turn soon.

But we were not yet formed in our privilege, and Smith’s resistance was also ours. When he said, “I’m a human being and I’ve got thoughts and secrets and bloody life inside me that he (the governor) doesn’t know is there, and he’ll never know what’s there because he’s stupid.... But what I say is true right enough. He’s stupid, and I’m not, because I can see further into the likes of him than he can see into the likes of me,” he was speaking for us too - only our governor was called the headmaster.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'The Twin' by Gerbrand Bakker

Here's the sell: you've really got to read this translated book about a Dutch farmer in his late 50s whose twin brother died in a car accident decades ago, who's never had a holiday from his work on a small holding in a dull part of Holland, whose family consists solely of his bedridden cantankerous elderly father, and who spends most of his time with his livestock and two donkeys. Oh, and his ultimate fantasy is to escape this life and move all the way to ... Denmark.

Since your attention is presumably right now turning to other matters, I'd better quickly add that if you don't take up this recommendation, you'll be missing a wonderful literary experience. Gerbrand Bakker's The Twin is a masterpiece, a tenderly-written and haunting piece of fiction that should surely win the 2010 IMPAC award.

The original Dutch title translates to something like ‘It's quiet upstairs’, and the arresting opening sets a tone maintained perfectly for the rest of the book: I've put Father upstairs. I had to park him on a chair first to take the bed apart. He sat there like a calf that's just a couple of minutes old, before it's been licked clean: with a directionless, wobbly head and eyes that drift over things.

This is the voice of Helmer van Wonderen. We spend 283 pages inside his head and yet are never absolutely sure where we are going next. Vivien Mercier's crack was that Waiting for Godot was a play in which ‘nothing happens, twice’; and we might feel that The Twin is a novel in which nothing happens many times. But, as with Godot, watching this is gripping. I took 10 days to read this relatively short novel, deliberately pausing as it kept sneaking into my thoughts at odd times, finding my own reading pace taking on the rhythm of the story-telling itself. At times you feel you're looking at Vermeer in the 21st century. Helmer's narration is steady, laconic, teasing. Perhaps a reason why this style is so compelling is that you never feel you've entirely 'got' the protagonist, just as some people in real life always elude our attempts to pin them down.

The pleasures of the book are myriad. If you didn't know it was translated (by David Colmer) you couldn't possibly guess: the English is fresh, clean and natural. The sense of place, in the house and farm and further afield in Holland, is powerful. Other characters are memorably drawn - neighbour Ada and her young children Ronald and Teut, Riet (the girlfriend of Helmer's dead identical twin Henk) and her son, also called Henk, the farmhand Jaap, the father upstairs in his last weeks of life (shades of Hamlet and Great Expectations). But listing such qualities doesn't explain the sheer power of this subtle novel: just trust me and read it.


Other reviews:-
In The Complete Review : 'an absolutely fascinating read.'
Paul Binding in the Independent: 'a novel of great brilliance and subtlety.'
Catherine Taylor in the Guardian: 'this unusual, memorable novel.'
Eileen Battersby in the Irish Times: 'you want everyone to share the pleasure.'


Here is 'Love' by Oyinda Onabanjo, one of her entries for the Senior Poetry Prize:

“I love you.”
“You wish.”
“I Love You.”
“Do you love me?”
“Do you?”
“I love you.”
“I know…”

Willis Prize for Shakespeare

Candidates from VI, V and IV can sit the annual Shakespeare Prize today, either at 2pm in the Library or at 6.30pm in Adare. The exam takes 90 minutes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Winner, Senior Poetry Prize

Congratulations to Olivia Plunket, winner of the Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry, 2010. She will receive her prize at the St Columba's Day celebrations on June 5th, and will also have her name inscribed on the trophy (pictured). It was presented in memory of Old Columban Peter Dix, who died in the Lockerbie bombing.

Below are two poems from her winning portfolio:

'The Writer', by Olivia Plunket

Pen, ink, start,
Sitting surrounded,
Unmoved, unchanged,
Just try to make sense.
Something's here,
Here's there's something,
Worthy of my ink,
Worthy of my time.
Let me make a puzzle
You will never understand.
I'll write,
You'll read,
Trying to reach the meanings,
Never waiting, casting my words away,
Away from pen,
from paper,
from ink,
from you.

'Drops' by Olivia Plunket

You cannot stop,
The surge that you consume,
The comfort it brings you.
And I cannot forgive.
There are no more chances to use,
There's nothing here for you.
Sympathy, childhood,
Both used up,
On you.
Will you stop?
Do you have the will:
Power is all it takes.
I guess you lost that long ago,
As I lost you.

'King Lear' podcasts

A summary of the four revision podcasts on King Lear now available to Leaving Cert candidates. Click on the titles:-

1. The opening scene
2. The play's bleak vision
3. The Good Guys - Kent and Albany
4. Quotation auto-test

Monday, May 17, 2010

Drama Prizes

Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Drama Prizes: Poppy Vernon wins the Senior Drama Prize for her performance in The Acharnians (above), and also the Fry Prize for Stagecraft. Kezia Wright wins the Junior Drama Prize for her performance in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.


The final poem from our selection of entries for the Junior Poetry Prize:-

'Creatures', by Sadhbh Sheeran

Creatures live in the dark,
There to seduce, to scare, to save,
To torment our dreams,
With things long past forgotten.

Glimpses of animals only our imagination can create.
The tall straight back of my father’s chair,
In the mists of night becomes a mouth,
Waiting to bite.
To engulf my wandering thoughts
Into its never-ending blackness.

A form appears, where the curtains should be,
Reaching out to grab my hand,
To pull me from my warm, warm bed,
And take me to a far distant land,
Where evils reign and badness flourishes.

With a simple gesture these creatures go,
Back to their beds and loving mothers.
The light will show no memory of them
But that does not mean they do not live,
There to seduce, to scare, to save.

King Lear revision podcast 4: quotation auto-test

Our 21st podcast features ten quotations from King Lear; you can pause your computer or MP3 player after each, and test yourself on who spoke the words, and their context, and then listen to the answers and a commentary on the quotation. These commentaries examine the quotations as key moments in the play, linking them to the rest of the text, and again trying to prompt fresh reflection on the themes and characters.

The Shakespeare search engine recommended at the start of the talk is Clusty; click here and then experiment with key words and characters from the play.

Listen to the podcast via the player below:-

You can also listen to our podcasts via the 'widget' on the sidebar to the right, or by visiting our podcast page here (if you have iTunes on your computer you can also subscribe by clicking here, and so download our episodes to your MP3 player, or by searching for 'SCC English' in the iTunes Store).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

More Creatures

Three more poems on Creatures from the entries to this year's Junior Poetry Prize:-

'We are They' by Duncan Mathews

The creature stalks,
The creature flies,
It swoops down from on high,
That sea of blue,

Nothing stirs where the creature's been,
Through valleys,
Forests and mountains green,

No sheep caught in a thicket,
No noisy and unwary cricket.
They're all afraid it'll come back,
Hunt them through a night of black,

So what are these creatures of which they speak?
Do they have claws,
Or even a beak?
No they have arms, legs and even heads,
They live in houses, sleep in beds,
Sleep by night walk by day.
We are they.

'These Creatures' by Lydia Johnson

These creatures lurk in our houses,
And they hog the couch and devour the food.
So when you come home hungry
The fridge is empty. How rude!

Their lair looks like a dumpyard,
And smells like a trip to the zoo.
And you'd think their clothes had been soaked in mud
Or dipped into the loo.

They disguise themselves as humans,
Though everyone knows they're something more
As they act completely different:
They scream and shout and kick and roar.

These creatures won't abduct you,
They'll follow you around until you give in.
They claim they are our 'brothers'
But somehow they just don't fit in.

'Creatures' by Nicole Cosgrove

Tiny little bugs' eyes
Hidden, startled, open:
Creating a universe
Parallel to mine
Within the space of a hedge.
The wonder of the spectacular
And the normality of normal,
Is everywhere around us
In the surroundings
Of my life.
To assume that I am
On my own is to
Miss a world of wonder.
When I close my eyes
I find these creatures
In the recesses of my mind.

Teenagers, Locusts and a Gorilla

Here are three more poems from the recent Junior Poetry Prize competition: an interesting bunch of creatures this time...

'Teenagers' by Philippa Carroll

Their lair is Dundrum,
Their watering hole is the fountain.
They are at the top of the foodchain,
Discussing the strong ones, the weak ones.
They kill for entertainment.
Eating away at their so-called colleagues
Until they are empty.
Their hearts are covered in ice.
Luckily, eventually the ice melts off,
Revealing a warm and loving heart.
Although this takes time
It's often worth the wait.

'The Locusts' by Arthur Moffitt

The ravenous swarm, a plague,
Flickering on the horizon
Heading for the juicy crop,
Gorging, robbing and destroying.
Never ending, ever hungry,
Like a bottomless pit.

'Gorilla' by Mark McAuley

I am trapped here for life.
Sentenced to death by
Treacherous poachers
I am on my own.
I awake to children’s laughter, flashing lights
And my chain-made structure
I am just an attraction.
I long for my homeland.
With sparkling rushing water
And sounds of my brethren
I lie here waiting.
I pound my hairy chest
In hope of some reply.
The daily supply of food
Is the only thing I have left to live for
I long to die...

Selected Tweets from Last Week

Some useful links/resources from last week's SCC English Twitter site:

  1. Classic: RT @TheOnion: New David Simon Project To Investigate Happy, Upper-Middle-Class Streets Of Wilmette, IL
  2. Gambon superb now at the Gate, Dublin, as Krapp: RT @dcozy: is looking forward to: Drama on 3: Krapp's Last Tape:
  3. Artistic prompts for pupils writing poems: our 'Images in Poetry' module:
  4. Great help for English teachers for #ff: @RealGeoffBarton, @englishcomp, @web20classroom, @abfromz.
  5. Great help for English teachers for #ff: @umphrey, @yourenglishclas, @msstewart, @SeanBanville, @ozge, @kristenswanson, @CohenD.
  6. Great help for English teachers for #ff: @larryferlazzo, @coolcatteacher, @rmbyrne, @esolcourses, @ecning, @englishblog.
  7. Olivia Plunket =third in 'Teaching English' national senior poetry competition, & Michael Kemp, Highly Commended:
  8. DRAMA PRIZES: congratulations to the winners- Poppy Vernon (senior), and Kezia Wright (junior)
  9. Vote for SCC English in the Top 100 Language Learning Blogs 2010! Thanks!
  10. 'Some Like it Tepid.' #lessermovies
  11. 'The Bourne Inferiority' #lessermovies
  12. 'Gone with the Breeze' #lessermovies
  13. 3 revision podcasts on 'King Lear':
  14. Seconded! RT @sineadgleeson: Halfway through #IMPAC shortlist. If I had to pick the likeliest winner, it'd be Gerbrand Bakker's The Twin.
  15. Perhaps navigation app? RT @TelegraphTech: Two thirds of Britons use mobiles while crossing road
  16. The School Library Association (Rep Ireland) is at
  17. Neat classy idea from @paperlesspost: elegant stationery on the screen:
  18. Reminder of a classic. RT @declanburke: "They laughed when I said I wanted to be a comedian. Well, they're not laughing now." - Bob Monkhouse
  19. I.T. letter today re coughing at Beckett performance. Hear hear (er, as it were): (we were obviously lucky on Thursday)
  20. SCC English podcast site: 20 podcasts on Shakespeare, drama, Chaucer, Henry James, Yeats, Boland, Kavanagh:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Images in Poetry

Yesterday we reported on Olivia Plunket's success in the Teaching English poetry competition with her poem 'Judith and Holofernes' (last year Thomas Emmet's 'The Old Guitarist' was Highly Commended in the same competition). A series of poems from the Images in Art TY module will feature in our forthcoming book, and here now Ms Smith explains the purpose and method behind this exciting feature of our Transition Year:-

Innate curiosity is a wonderful thing. John Berger, in his iconic little book of 1972, Ways of Seeing, celebrates this and aims to ‘start a process of questioning’. In light of the fact that all productive lessons have an aim, Berger’s has been adopted for the Transition Year Images in Poetry module. In this module pupils explore the link between images and poetry.

To begin, a selection of famous paintings is studied alongside corresponding poems by well-known poets. Questions about the poets’ intentions are posed: What might the writer wish to capture, achieve or develop? Why do they choose particular forms? Do the poems sit comfortably next to the images? And are they obliged to do so or not?

The next stage sees the pupils looking at photographs and paintings of their finding and questioning them; this is the most important part of the process and happens readily for most, even the sceptics. They might ask: Why has this been framed (it’s awful!)? What is happening just beyond where the field is cut off in this Millet painting? Who is the old woman hovering at Judith’s sword-brandishing side in Caravaggio’s gruesome depiction of Holofernes’s decapitation? And why does she appear again with a candle illuminating Samson’s demise in Rubens’s baroque painting of the ‘hair-cut crime’? Why is that nice looking boy staring at himself in a puddle in Waterhouse’s painted world?

These questions are written down, and each pupil chooses to answer one in the form of a poem. Different poetic forms are suggested and tried, and often retried. The fruits of the pupils’ writing can be seen here; you can read examples of free verse, the sonnet, the villanelle, and the haiku. But most importantly, here you can see pupils' creativity, their individuality, and that essential thing again: their curiosity.

Friday, May 14, 2010

'Teaching English' Competition 2010

Many congratulations to Olivia Plunket, who has come joint third in the annual senior national poetry competition run by the SLSS for Teaching English magazine, and to Michael Kemp, who was Highly Commended. Both will attend the awards ceremony in Portlaoise in September. Below are their poems. Olivia's was a response to the TY Images in Poetry module, and Michael's a part of a group exercise response to a creative writing prompt.

Olivia wrote her poem in response to the stunning 1599 painting 'Judith and Holofernes' by Caravaggio (click here for a large image):-

'Judith and Holofernes' by Olivia Plunket

Draping curtains as red as blood
The maid will encourage Judith
As she enters the realm of reality.

Holofernes’s hand clenching
The blood-stained sheets
Upon which his body lies.

His shoulder arching forward,
His muscles pulsing.
Outside the frame his legs are thrashing,
As he tries to fight his fate,
Screaming to his saviour in the heavens.

'I Am', by Michael Kemp

I am from the vapour of the shirt
I am from the puff puff puff like a calabash
I am from the very thin, burning rim
I am from under the cold tap
I am from the pain that wouldn't go away.

From the door with no knob
From the unused tree house
From tiny cushions home to severe amounts of moss, damp and spiders
From the trampoline covered in the faded petals of a blossom tree.

From the traditional Lamb
From the no lamb on Sunday
From the lying toad
From the escape of a mental home
From my Dad's office
From the standing hare that looked like a dog.

From the union of blood, success and tragedy
All these things I loved dearly,
so odd and on their own.
Home is where the heart is; but first you have to find home.