2 Learning Objectives (AQA) AO1: respond to texts critically and imaginatively, select and evaluate textual detail to illustrate and support interpretations.AO2: explain how language, structure and form contribute to writers’ presentation of ideas, themes and settings.
3 Write 3 words or phrases to describe the 2 pictures below Write 3 words or phrases to describe the 2 pictures below. Share your ideas with a partner.
4 What words would you use to describe someone who is homeless?
5 The Clown PunkDriving home through the shonky side of town,Three times out of ten you’ll see the town clown,Like a basket of washing that got upAnd walked, towing a dog on a rope. ButDon’t laugh: every pixel of that man’s skinIs shot through with indelible ink:As he steps out at the traffic lights,Think what he’ll look like in thirty years’ time –The deflated face and shrunken scalpStill daubed with the sad tattoos of high punk.You kids in the back seat who wince and screamWhen he slathers his daft mush on the windscreen,Remember the clown punk with his dyed brain,Then picture windscreen wipers, and let it rain. Simon Armitage
6 The Clown Punk Driving home through the shonky side of town, Sounds derogatoryShonky = rundownDriving home through the shonky side of town,three times out of ten you’ll see the town clown,like a basket of washing that got upand walked, towing a dog on a rope. ButsimilePoint out to students that the setting ‘the shonky side of town’ shows that the Clown Punk is marginalised and rejected by society. The ‘dog on a rope’ suggests homelessness – stereotypical image of homeless person. Use of connective at end of stanza – to make the reader read on – suggests that there is more to come in the story. Rhyming couplet at start of stanza – part of sonnet form. The use of the simile ‘like a basket of washing’ – used as a quick way of showing what the Clown Punk looks like. Also, by making the reader work at the image, it is more powerful as an image.Verbs of movementConnective at end ofstanza
7 don’t laugh: every pixel of that man’s skin Imperative verbdon’t laugh: every pixel of that man’s skinis shot through with indelible ink;as he steps out at the traffic lights,think what he’ll look like in thirty years’ time -Dash at end of stanzaUse of imperative verbs – ‘bossy verbs’ telling reader what to do or think: ‘don’t laugh’ – telling reader this is a serious subject; ‘think what he’ll look like’ – reader invited to speculate about Clown Punk’s future. Use of dash at end of stanza – reader invited to pause and think about what the Clown Punk will look like in 30 years time. Again suggests that there is more to come in the story.
8 the deflated face and shrunken scalp, Alliteration and assonancethe deflated face and shrunken scalp,still daubed with the sad tattoos of high punk.You kids in the back seat who wince and screamwhen he slathers his daft mush on the windscreen,remember the clown punk with his dyed brain,then picture windscreen wipers, and let it rain.Point out to students the connotations of ‘deflated’ and ‘shrunken’ – like a child’s balloon after a party, slightly intimidating image. Suggests the passing of time. Punk was a youth movement and the reader is asked to imagine what a punk will look like as an old man. Ambiguous ending – what will happen to the Clown Punk? The image of ‘rain’ is as of something washing things away – the past?Mush = faceRhyming couplet
9 Re-read the poem and think about these questions. What sort of character is the Clown Punk?What is his status in Stanza 1?How do the children react to the Clown Punk?Why does the narrator want the children to remember the Clown Punk?Point out to the students that the Clown Punk is seen as an intimidating figure – the tattoos, shaved head and the perceived aggressive windscreen wiper at the traffic lights. He is seen as sad, tatty and potentially homeless in stanza 1 – bottom of the social scale, to be ignored and avoided. The children’s fear is the fear of the unknown – they don’t understand the cultural references of the tattoos and shaved head of a punk. The narrator wants the children to remember the Clown Punk as a warning that these misfortunes can happen to anyone – they are invited to empathise with his situation. He also wants them to think of the previous life of the Clown Punk – he was young, had a future which presumably didn’t involve being homeless and washing car windscreens at traffic lights.
10 Rhyme and RhythmThe poem is written as a sonnet – 14 lines traditionally written in iambic pentameter.Iambic pentameter – 10 syllables per line, alternately unstressed and stressedDri-ving home through the shon-ky side of townUnstressed syllablesin italicsStressed syllablesin bold
11 Re-read the poem and answer the following questions. Why is the poem written as a sonnet?Why does the poet use rhyming couplets?What is the effect of the poet’s use of alliteration and assonance?What is the effect of the final couplet of the poem?Point out to students that the sonnet is a traditional poetic form often used for romantic or love poems. The rhyming couplets are part of the sonnet form – they help the rhythm of the poem. Also point out the use of half-rhyme ‘scream, windscreen’. The poem doesn’t use iambic pentameter the whole way through – Armitage is not trying to write a sonnet; he is using the form to write a poem with a certain rhythm. Use of alliteration and assonance – used for emphasis - ‘shonky side’ emphasises the image of the rundown part of town; ‘shrunken scalp’ emphasises the appearance of the Clown Punk. The final couplet is ambiguous – is the past being washed away or is the narrator consigning the Clown Punk to the past?
12 Think of 3 questions that you would ask either the narrator or the Clown Punk if you met them. List 3 things that you have learnt about the characters in the poem.What is the most memorable word, phrase or line from the poem? Why?