DEC Scan Journal : Volume 33 Issue 2
2014 Volume 33, Issue 2 47 Contents Editorial Currents Teaching & learning Research Curriculum support Share this Resource reviews Consider the persona in the poem Shell by John Malone. Listen to the sea, my grandad said as we stood on the soft white sand. And he clamped the shell to my ear like a mobile phone. Shell by John Malone The accompanying illustration by Australian artist Matt Ottley reinforces the illusion that this poem is written by a child. In fact, John Malone is a widely- published adult poet, who has created the persona of a child for his beautiful poem. The illustration has given the child persona an age and gender. In contrast, John McCrae who wrote the moving lines quoted in Orbit #3, 2014, is said to have done so from the battlefields of Belgium where he served as surgeon to the First Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery. McCrae wrote the poem a day after one of his closest friends was killed, like so many others, in fierce fighting between German and Canadian troops. In McCrae’s famous poem, the dead address the reader directly. They threaten that their rest depends on our resolve to finish their fight. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep ... In Flanders’ fields by John McCrae see for example outcome (ENe–8B), in English K–10, which contains in the foundation year content description the descriptor, Students explore the different contribution of words and images to meaning in stories and informative texts (ACELA 1786) The learning required becomes quite specific by Year 4, as outcome (EN2–8B) and AC content descriptor (ACELA 1496) make clear: Students explore the effect of choices when framing an image, placement of elements in the image, and salience on composition of still and moving images in a range of types of texts. Students are expected not only to be able to discuss images and describe their effect, but also to create images and represent information using graphics and layout as makers of meaning. The poetry texts published in The School Magazine are accompanied by illustrations of real significance. Many of these images not only illustrate the action, participants or setting of a particular poem; they also extend and enrich the atmosphere and impact of the written text and provide teachers with the opportunity to discuss vectors, salience, framing, angle and composition as required by syllabus content. An example of this effect can be seen in the poem, Song of a sock illustrated by Vilma Cencic. The decision of the artist to represent the historical and personal context in which the poem was likely to have been read, in this case, by a soldier during the fighting of WWI, adds immeasurably to the poem’s poignancy. Practical applications Each of the forty magazines that are published by The School Magazine every year is accompanied by a Teaching Guide which demonstrates how to use those texts in primary classrooms. The Teaching Guides explicate the language features of texts, including poetry, but do it in a meaningful context, and do it in a way that is innovative, pedagogically rigorous, and most importantly, fun! Here are some additional ideas about making the most of the poetry in The School Magazine in a classroom setting. Narrative persona Sandra Bernhardt, editor and writer on language and poetics, has suggested in Insight into poetry: persona (The School Magazine Teaching Guide, Orbit and Touchdown #2, 2014) that the persona of a poem is the voice of the poem; the person that readers can hear talking to them. It is helpful to differentiate between the narrative persona and the poet. The term persona comes from Latin and Greek, Bernhardt explains, where it referred to the masks that actors wore in drama, the masks both hiding the actors from the audience and allowing actors to adopt multiple roles in a play. She continues: In a similar way poets create personas behind which they hide and allow their personas to connect with readers directly. Sometimes the poet creates a persona simply to distance himself or herself from the subject of the poem, which might be too painful or intense to deal with personally. The classic example of this is TS Eliot’s use of Prufrock as a persona in ‘The love song of J Alfred Prufrock.’ At other times, the persona is simply someone with a close connection to the setting of the poem, for example, the persona of Christopher Robin in collections of poetry such as When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. (Bernhardt, p.14) Contrasting the narrative persona in poetry is a particularly effective method of teaching students the differences between the author who wrote the piece, and the persona who appears to express it.
Volume 33 Issue 3
2014 Issue 1