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Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan

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1 Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan
By Moniza Alvi EAL support materials produced by Carol Shayle & CTC

2 “They sent me a salwar kameez peacock-blue”
The salwar kameez is worn by women in Pakistan.It is loose fitting trousers and a long tunic. The peacock is bright blue in colour.

3 “and another glistening like an orange split open,”
The colours contrast with the clothes from England Which word tells you this is a simile? Is this description effective?

4 “embossed slippers, gold and black points curling.”

5 “Candy- striped glass bangles snapped, drew blood.”
Candy-canes are striped The bangles broke.

6 “My aunts chose an apple-green sari,
silver-bordered for my teens”

7 “I tried each satin-silken top- was alien in the sitting – room.”
How do the presents make her feel?

8 “I longed for denim and corduroy.”
What kind of clothes are made out of denim and corduroy? Denim jeans.

9 “ I wanted my parents camel- skin lamp- switching it on in my bedroom,”
A camel Camel skin lamps

10 “marvel at the colours like stained glass.”
What do you notice about the colours?

11 “My mother cherished her jewellery- Indian gold, dangling, filigree”

12 “ My aunts requested cardigans from Marks and Spencers.”
Which country do these clothes come from? A cardigan Marks and Spencer

13 “ My costume clung to me and I was aflame”
What poetic device is used here? Can you explain what it means?

14 “ But often I admired the mirror-work,”
Mirror work- small glass circles.

15 “how the three of us sailed to England”
The real boat took her away from home, from Pakistan.

16 “Prickly heat had me screaming on the way
“Prickly heat had me screaming on the way I ended up in a cot in my English grandmother’s dining room, found myself alone, playing with a tin boat”.

17 “ I pictured my birthplace from fifties photographs”
Do you think she can remember her birthplace? When did she leave Pakistan?

18 “When I was older there was a conflict, a fractured land throbbing through newsprint.”
Does the fractured land reflect her identity? What happened in Pakistan to cause the conflict? How does she know the land was fractured?

19 “staring through fretwork”
What is stopping her from being part of Pakistan? Fretwork

20 “Or there were beggars, sweeper- girls and I was there-”

21 A beggar on the streets.

22 “staring through fretwork at the Shalimar Gardens.”
How do you know she doesn’t feel part of Pakistan? Shalimar Gardens- peaceful, walled gardens in Lahore.

23 Where do you think the poet is from
Where do you think the poet is from? Can you guess where her parents are from? Do you think she wrote this poem using her own experiences?

24 The poet- Moniza Alvi. Moniza was born in Pakistan in 1954, to a Pakistani father and an English mother. She moved to England as a child, and revisted Pakistan for the first time in 1993.

25 What is a ‘salwar kameez’? – 1 point
What two cultures are explored in the poem? – 1 point What materials does she long for? – 2 points What do the poet’s Aunt want in return? - 1 point “glistening like an orange split open” what poetic device is used here? – 2 points Who isn’t impressed by her presents? – 1 point What is Lahore? – 1 point How does the poem end? – 2 points How did the poet and her family travel to England? - 1 point What does the structure of the poem reflect? – 2 points

26 Were you correct?

27 Key Points of the poem What is the poem about? Structure
Voice in the poem/narrator Poetic devices used Tone of poem What is the effect/purpose of the poem?

28 Key Points of the poem What is the poem about? Structure
About a girl who is confused about her identify and is almost torn between cultures. She wants to the able to wear the clothes her aunts send her but feels that they are too exotic for her. Her friends think the clothes are strange . The poem ends with the poet reflecting on her childhood and home. Structure 6 stanzas of different lengths. Jagged appearance which reflects the confusion the poet feels about her identity and which culture she belongs to. Voice in the poem/narrator Written in the first person. Autobiographical – it is about the poet’s own experience which makes the poem seem more interesting. She is reflecting on her childhood and memories. Poetic devices used Metaphors – lines 22-23 Enjambment – lots of examples throughout poem. Simile – line 4 Lots of visual imagery through colours. Tone of poem Confused – conflict between two cultures. What is the effect/purpose of the poem? Challenges the reader to think about their own culture, differences between cultures. Can you be part of two cultures. What defines us – where we are from or where we are?

29 Key points about the poem
The poem is about living in an alien culture where the poet feels a loss of identity and no sense of belonging. There is a sense that she can only observe her culture and not be part of it. The poem is about an individual experiencing two cultures. The differences between the two cultures are expressed through material objects, mainly clothes.

30 Important lines in the poem
“Candy - striped glass bangles snapped, drew blood.” - This is symbolic of how her tradition harms the poet. The clothes and jewellery are not practical for life in the West. “I tried each satin-silken top - was alien in the sitting-room” - The clothes represent PARADOX (contradiction). She admires the clothes but feel they are too exotic for her. “My costume clung to me and I was aflame” - Metaphor for the discomfort she is feeling. She wants to wear the clothes but as she is half-English, she feels she can not.

31 “My mother cherished her jewellery - Indian gold, dangling, filligree
“My mother cherished her jewellery - Indian gold, dangling, filligree. But it was stolen from our car” - This event is symbolic of the difficulties of changing from one culture to another. “no fixed nationality” - the poet has no real sense of belonging.

32 PQE = point, quote, explain.
How to get an A – C grade You need to be able to comment on the language that the poet uses and also explain the impact on the reader. Remember you always have to PQE!! PQE = point, quote, explain.

33 Questions How is the girl’s separation from both cultures suggested in the poem? Why do you think that the poem is structured in the way that it is? Which culture do you think she is more comfortable with and why? What is the effect of the poem being written in first person narrative?

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