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Checking Out Me History John Agard. Read the poem through.

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Presentation on theme: "Checking Out Me History John Agard. Read the poem through."— Presentation transcript:

1 Checking Out Me History John Agard

2 Read the poem through

3 Important things to know… 1066 = crucial to English history as it marked the take over of English society by the French. Dick Whittington = a poor boy with nothing but a cat who became Lord Mayor of London – mentioned in fairy tales and pantomimes Touissant L’Ouverture = the black leader of the Haitian revolution against French Colonial rule. He abolished slavery in Haiti and turned it into an independent republic Nanny de Maroon = (Maroon is a general term used to describe black slaves who escaped from slavery and lived in remote places within the areas they had been transported to. Nanny de Maroon led the maroons to victory in Jamaica against British rule. Lord Nelson = famous English admiral who inflicted a massive defeat on the French which meant the British Empire was strengthened. The Battle of Waterloo 1815 = the final defeat of the French army led by Napoleon which made Britain a world super power

4 Shaka = an influential leader of the Zulu nation. He united the Zulu people against other tribes and the increasing presence of the white settlers Caribs and Arawaks = the original inhabitants of the West Indies at the time when Columbus ‘discovered’ the islands. They were killed off by the war or through exposure to European diseases that they had no immunity to. Florence Nightingale = a famous British nurse. Famous for her work in the Crimean War and her innovations in hygiene. Robin Hood = legendary English hero made famous from supposedly stealing from the rich to give to the poor. Mary Seacole was a Jamaican woman who looked after soldiers in the same way that Nightingale did – a black woman who made a unique contribution to our history but has been forgotten. Crimean War = Russian Empire vs Britain, France and the Ottoman Empire. Lots of deaths occurred from fighting bit also from outbreaks of disease. Old King Cole and The Cow Jumped Over the Moon = nursery rhymes

5 What do the following mean? Dem - Me - Bout - Dat - Lick back - De – See-far woman – -Them -My -About -That -Defeated -Of -A woman who has a vision of the future

6 Brief notes about the poem Agard is pointing out how in the English Curriculum students only seem to learn about white people because he believes it is written by white people for white people He believes history in the English Curriculum deliberately leaves out information about black men and women who deserve more recognition

7 Stanza one… Dem tell me Wha dem want to tell me What’s the stanza about? These three words are used at the start of all the stanzas that rhyme The repetition highlights the control that white people have over history Agard believes that if you control what people learn about the past, then you can control how people think and what they think about themselves

8 Stanza two… Bandage up me eye with me own history Blind me to me own identity The alliteration on ‘b’ at the start of these lines shows that Agard believes that information has been deliberately distorted and hidden The use of the ‘b’ creates an angry tone The use of non-standard English is used to show his own culture and background which he feels is not acknowledged by the English Curriculum What’s the stanza about?

9 Stanza three… Dem tell me bout 1066 and all dat dem tell me bout Dick Whittington and he cat But Toussaint L’Ouverture no dem never tell me bout dat This quatrain is repeated throughout the poem – in each one a different famous white figure is mentioned. Each quatrain usually ends with the mention of a black historical figure who isn’t taught about The childish rhyme shows how he feels about what he has been told about the past – this is why he mentions characters from nursery rhymes and myth – he is mocking what he has been told What’s the stanza about?

10 Stanza four… Toussaint a slave with vision lick black Napolean battalion and first Black Republic born Toussaint de thorn to de French Toussaint de beacon of de Haitian Revolution These longer verses serve to concentrate on someone famous in black history The mocking tone is not apparent in these sections. They are italicised so that they stand out visually The lines are shorter and they are written in free verse – Agard is using an unconventional form to write about unconventional ideas The use of occasional rhyme in these sections is irregular These section are filled with metaphor and positive imagery to convince the reader about how amazing these people are What’s the stanza about?

11 Stanza five… Dem tell me bout de man who discover de balloon and de cow who jump over de moon Dem tell me bout de dish ran away with the spoon but dem never tell me bout Nanny de maroon Note the lack of punctuation in the whole poem. Agarad is choosing to reject the rules of punctuation – the poem is therefore purposefully full of enjambment – this represents how he is rejecting white history too What’s the stanza about?

12 Stanza six… Nanny see-far woman of mountain dream fire-woman struggle hopeful stream to freedom river This language is unusual and original What do the metaphors suggest to you about Nanny de Maroon? The metaphors create a positive image of Nanny What’s the stanza about?

13 Stanza seven… Dem tell me bout Lord Nelson and Waterloo but dem never tell me bout Shaka de great Zulu What’s the stanza about?

14 Stanza eight… Dem tell me bout Columbus and 1492 but what happen to de Caribs and de Arawaks too What’s the stanza about?

15 Stanza nine… Dem tell me bout Florence Nightingale and she lamp And how Robin Hood used to camp Dem tell me bout ole King Cole was a merry ole soul but dem never tell me bout Mary Seacole What’s the stanza about?

16 Stanza ten… From Jamaica she travel far to the Crimean War she volunteer to go and even when de British said no she still brave the Russian snow a healing star among the wounded a yellow sunrise to the dying This metaphor describes Mary Seacole in a positive light – a yellow sunrise is full of hope and promise for the dying What’s the stanza about?

17 Stanza eleven… Dem tell Dem tell me wha dem want to tell me But now I checking out me own history I carving out me identity The repetition of ‘dem tell me’ could represent how Agard felt nagged when he was at school Here the second line highlights how angry Agard is Now that he knows about Toussaint; Nanny de Maroon and Mary Seacole he feels he is able to understand something about the culture he comes from What’s the stanza about?

18 The poem… Is cleverly constructed to reclaim black identity Makes the reader aware that British history is only a point of view Introduces the reader to famous black people Reminds us that whoever controls the past, controls the present

19 The poem… Cleverly uses two types of stanza to show the differences between ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ history Shows that without a history and without a distinctive voice we may have no identity

20 Stanza two… Bandage up me eye with me own history Blind me to me own identity

21 Stanza two… Bandage up me eye with me own history Blind me to me own identity


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