The poems are both performance poems and the tone or mood of them are similar – there is some humour in both poems and they look as though they should be spoken in an angry sort of way. After watching a video of Tom Leonard and John Agard themselves reading their poems my assumption that the poems should be read with a sort of angry humour were confirmed. In “Unrelated Incidents” I think that the poem should be spoken in an angry way the whole way through, whereas with “Half-Caste” it seems to me that it should start off in a sort of politely curious way and gradually get angrier and angrier towards the end. I think that it should start off in a curious way because it seems to me as though John Agard is trying to understand why people call him “half-caste”/ In the very first verse John Agar has used a sort of humour – Excuse me
Standing on one leg
The meaning of both of the poems is linked, as they are both about culture. Both poets seem to feel outcaste, or even victimised, because of their culture. However, the subject of the poems differ because “Unrelated Incidents” talks about judging people by their accents and the way they talk, whereas “Half-Caste” talks about being criticised because of being of mixed race. The poets seem to feel that they are not treated normally and they don’t get enough respect because of who they are and the way they talk.
Tom Leonard has written his poem in such a way that he is the newsreader, and he is criticising people with a Glaswegian accent, describing each person as “wanna yoo scruff” – this makes me think that this is the way that Tom Leonard thinks people would describe him. John Agard doesn’t understand why he is considered to be “half-caste” just because he is of mixed race because in his opinion the word “half-caste” is wrong, as when two colours are mixed together it does not create something “half-caste”. This is why he says “Explain yuself
Wha yu mean
When yu say half-caste
Both poems are written phonetically in dialect accents – “Unrelated Incidents” is written in a Scottish dialect and “Half-Caste” is written in a Caribbean dialect. Both poets use repetition to emphasise – In “Half-Caste” the words “explain yuself
wha yu mean when yu say half-caste” is repeated to emphasise the fact that John Agard is at a loss as to why people call him “half-caste”, and in “unrelated Incidents” Tom Leonard repeats the words “wanna yoo scruff” to emphasise the fact that he is considered to be “scruff” because of his accent. John Agard uses simalies and metaphors in his poem – “yu mean when light an shadow mix in de sky” – whereas Tom Leonard doesn’t.
Personally I liked the fact that the poems are written phonetically, although it seems to me as though “Unrelated Incidents” is more phonetic than “Half-Caste”. I thought it was quite unusual that “Unrelated Incidents” was set out in a column with no more than four words per line, yet I think that it is interesting and inventive that it is structured like a TV presenters auto-cue. Although I like the fact that the poems are written phonetically I found that the different dialect accents were quite difficult to get your tongue around. I also enjoyed the fact that both poems were performance poems, which made them more interesting to hear and read aloud.
Although both poems are very different they do have quite a few similarities and links. Both poems got me thinking that it would be better if we opened our eyes and realised that such easily tossed around phrases like “half-caste” can be hurtful. Both poets seem to feel that they are disrespected, and it made me open my mind to a few thoughts: are people of different cultures treated unfairly? Are some people considered to be better than others because of their cultures? Are people criticised because of their cultures, and if they are what can be done to prevent this?