From my first book, First Love, Last Rites – remove all the pretentious commas doing the work of full stops and replace with full stops. Also, introduce some sensible paragraphing.
My students take note!
With mock exams coming up for Years 11, 12 and 13, this feels like a timely article from The Guardian.
We all work in different ways, and you need to find a style that helps you. Personally, I find writing notes is far better for my retention than simply highlighting. But, what other tips can I offer?
Here’s something simple, accessible but evocative, to match the increasingly-shorter days and the cold snap we have been experiencing.
What stuck in my mind, from all the poems I’ve read over the years? The idea of the icy wind being like ‘frosty pepper’ – how lovely is that?
Winter-Time, by Robert Louis Stevenson.
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.
When to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap;
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding cake.
We looked at Philip Larkin’s life and times when celebrating his birthday back in August – click here for that post.
What more can we say?
Let’s start the month with another quiz!
English is full of colloquialisms – informal words or phrases – and my students get to hear quite a few strange ones, with my Southern dialect confusing their Northern ears … for instance, we discussed my liking of a cup of ‘Rosie’ at break time or a tasty ‘Ruby’ on a Friday night. Can you guess what those are?
Today we celebrate a birth and commemorate two deaths.
Let’s start with the deaths – of two beloved children’s writers:
But I’d like to focus on William Blake, one of our most highly influential Romantic poets, who was born in 1757.
Many of you will know that this coming Wednesday is St. Andrew’s Day, so I wanted – for the second week running – to use a poem by a Scottish poet. And then, given last week’s Y11 Sixth Form Evening, I also decided to use one of the poems our Y13 students are currently studying.
The Glaswegian Carol Ann Duffy is the current and first woman Poet Laureate. As part of our A Level, we are currently looking at her wonderful collection, ‘The World’s Wife’. In this suite of poems, Duffy tells the story of women who have been forgotten by history because they were associated with famous men, including Darwin, Elvis, and King Midas. The poems are often caustically funny, occasionally angry, but always absolutely fascinating.
Mrs. Icarus riffs on the ancient myth of Icarus and Daedulus. The latter, a skilled craftsman and engineer built the Minotaur’s Lair for King Minos, but was later imprisoned. They built wings to fly away from imprisonment, and Daedulus warned his son not to fly too close to the sun, or too low, avoiding the sea spray. The youth, as is often the case, ignored his father’s advice – the wax in his wings melted, and he fell to drown in the Aegean sea. For centuries, the myth has served as a warning against pride and recklessness.
Whilst Y11 draw towards the end of their Victorian Literature studies, it’s not too early, as I said at Parents’ Evening, to start your revision. Some of our Y13 students could also do a lot worse than being familiar with the text.
And if you haven’t been studying Stevenson’s wonderful Gothic tale, it’s about time you became familiar with the story! The BBC has a couple of interesting resources for you …
Once again, Oxford Dictionaries have announced their words of the year.
Last year, you might know that the title was won by an emoji – a sign of the times?
Can you guess which words made it into the top 10?
It’s no secret that I am an avid Science Fiction reader, or that I really admire Margaret Atwood. But she’s not by any means the only important woman writing in the field – SF is as much for, and by, girls as it is boys.