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GCSE: Sujata Bhatt: from Search For My Tongue
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How do the poets represent the importance of 'roots' in their poetry? Consider how the social and cultural identity of the poets is paramount to the development of the main themes.
Moniza Alvi once said, "Growing up I felt that my origins were invisible, because there weren't many people to identify with in Hatfield at that time, of a mixed race background or indeed from any other race, so I felt there was a bit of a blank drawn over that. I think I had a fairly typical English fifties sixties upbringing". Isolation is specifically included in all the four poems. The poets all feel isolated because of their language and cultural differences to their surroundings.
- Word count: 3574
Looking at the two poems, 'Search for My tongue' and 'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan'; discuss the way culture is presented.
She mentions in a BBC interview her poem is autobiographical and reflects her growing up. At the start of the poem there is a strong sense of image, which helps to build up a feeling of adoration and beauty. We first see the idea of culture of culture in this poem in the clothing from Pakistan, which shows a rich sense of colour and beauty. When these clothes are later compared to with the ' cardigans from Marks and Spencers' it is easy to see how one culture appears to 'splash out' with colour in the various items of clothing, like the Salwar Kameez (loose trousers and a tunic, woven and worn traditionally by women).
- Word count: 1571
'Half-caste' 'search for my tongue' and 'blessing' all show people who are outsiders - How does each poet convey their thoughts and feelings?
The point he is trying to make to the reader is - is someone who is called a half-caste only half a person? The point of the poem is to try and get the reader to be a bit more open-minded. He deliberately uses very well known people; geniuses even, as examples to make his point. The poet uses colloquial English and imperatives and starts the poem by using the phrase "excuse me." He does this to try and attract attention and to get people to listen.
- Word count: 1098
We unconsciously relate language to the tongue. How often have we said to people, 'Have you lost your tongue?' when they fail to give us an answer or when they remain silent? That's because the tongue is one of the crucial organs we use when speaking. The speaker here has taken a new slant on the question and has said her tongue has indeed been lost, but she means her mother language has been lost, not her physical tongue. The extended metaphor Notice as you read and study the poem that the whole extract builds on an extended metaphor - the physical tongue as a metaphor for language.
- Word count: 9630
Nothings changed - Choose two poems which make a connection between the past and the present, and explain what this connection means to each writer.
Charollte o neils song-Choose two poems which communicate a sense of injustice, and show how the poets have succeeded in doing this. The rhythm of the poem is very vigorous and assertive. You can imagine it sung in a rebellious way - she's had enough. The stress falls on the important words in each line, especially the verbs, which emphasises all the physical actions that are being described. Words like 'scrape' and 'scrub' echo each other, and when you say the 'scr' you can hear the effort involved.
- Word count: 992
For many poets, writing in English, English is a second language. Many poets feel trapped between two cultures. Choose poems from this selection which show this and write about them as fully as you can - Nothings changed
In Unrelated incidents, Tom Leonard was born in Glasgow, and has continued to live there. He has described his childhood upbringing as 'working class West of Scotland Irish Catholic' (his father was from Dublin). Although his passport identifies him as a 'British' citizen, Tom Leonard sees himself as thoroughly Scottish. Almost all his poetry is written in his own Glasgow dialect. His aim has always been to make poetry using 'my own ordinary working-class West of Scotland speech that is still poetry'. He says he is interested in 'the political nature of voice in British culture'.
- Word count: 1331
Poems from Other Cultures and Traditions - Explain how two Poets from your Selection to Present Cultural Differences
Alvi, in "Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan" describes the gifts of clothing she receives in England from Pakistani relatives, but does not feel entirely comfortable in them. She longs for "demin and corduroy", worn in England, and is uncomfortable with her background, which she is not entirely familiar with, probably due to her mixed race, and feels she does not belong entirely in either country. In "Search for my Tongue", Bhatt is living in America, and is anxious of forgetting her mother tongue, a strong link to her childhood, In India.
- Word count: 761
Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan and Search for my tongue both show people thinking about their 'roots'. How does each poem convey their thoughts and feelings?
But together the poems give a sense of incongruity and a feeling that you don't belong here. The poems also show your original culture is always there, and that it isn't completely lost, for example in 'Search for my tongue' the poet is confident that the mother tongue is still with her and in 'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan' the poet shows your original culture can never be forgotten. The character in Moniza Alvi's poem is shown as a person 'of no fixed nationality' and someone who lives in two worlds, whereas Sujata Bhatt shows someone of a fixed nationality who has two tongues.
- Word count: 1095
It has an effect showing how she has two tongues in her mouth, one the English tongue, and the other tongue being the foreign tongue. Sujata's English tongue is talking however overnight her Gujarat tongue has taken over in her dreams. Then in the morning her English tongue comes back like a flower growing, "the bud opens, the bud opens in my mouth, it pushes the other tongue aside.
- Word count: 463
'Choose two or three poems which deal in some way with the experience of moving between different cultures and show how this is explained through language and imagery.'
Half- Caste creates many images, by using descriptive language and humour. It creates such images as a man, 'standing on leg' and having 'half mih ear' because he is only half-caste so he only has half what a normal person would have but it also creates images about objects 'mix a red an green is a half-caste canvas' and even music 'mix a black key wid a white key is a half-caste symphony'. This helps the reader to understand how the author is feeling about the term half-caste, and can also come to a conclusion about the term themselves.
- Word count: 963
This shows that the poet feels very strongly about loosing her original language. In the second section, which is written in Gujerati, it seems to be more poetic and flows better when reading it. The last section is describing how her first language the Gujerati has come back to her and describes it as how a flower would grow and blossom. The poem Blessing is about how in a very dry and hot country where it hardly ever rains, where they imagine the smallest amount of water crashing into a tin mug the water pipe which runs through the village bursts and all the people rush towards it with every pot and pan they can carry.
- Word count: 1055
At the end of the poem the poet realsies that she can never lose her mother tongue (see quote above). What makes this poem unique to the other two is that is contains foreign dialect, as well as English pronunciations. This gives the reader the opportunity to experience her dilemma of having "two tongues" "Unrelated Incidents" Like 'Search for my Tongue' this is a poem about language and power.
- Word count: 501
‘Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan’ by Moniza Alvi, and ‘Search for my Tongue’ by Sujata Bhatt
The poet also says, "I longed for denim and corduroy". She is saying that she feels more comfortable in the simple clothes worn by English women, and doesn't think she could live up to the Pakistani clothing. The clothing in this poem is used as a metaphor for the cultures of our two nations, and so she is in fact saying that she feels more comfortable in England that in Pakistan, but Pakistani culture is more elegant and beautiful than that of England.
- Word count: 739
Legend has it that Pan died due to the depletion of nature and animals in Greece. At the time this poem was written India was not a shade of what it is now and was known for its natural beauty and its peoples dependence and respect for nature. The next three lines seem to be mocking the Indian psyche of turning everything and everyone to god and creating a god for everything. The stereotypical Indian has a habit of using god?s name to get things done; associating every minute detail in his life to god and this is what I feel the poet is mocking.
- Word count: 1224