Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Sonnet No. 64
The poetry anthology Soundings was the textbook for the Irish Leaving Cert from 1969 to 2000. Yes, that's 31 years! And it contains one female poet, Emily Dickinson. And for some reason it has been reprinted in its original form. (misogyny nostalgia?)

These pages come from my tattered 1989 copy.
The officially sanctioned "meaning" of the poems, word for word, image by image were jotted into every crevice of the page to be regurgitated upon examination.

In those days intelligence was measured by the exactitude with which you could parrot your teachers...imagine!

I'm sure they've found a better system by now...

Some samples of poetry dissection...not for the squeamish!

Loud Is The Vale

No Second Troy

Canal Bank Walk

Mirror In February
I plan on making birds out of these pages... a bit of art therapy for the spotty leaving cert student in me!


Orla Fay said...

Ha ha I loved poetry so much in school, my faves were ode to a nightingale and when I read fern hill I knew I'd never be the same again.

No, in fact the day I discovered poetry I knew I'd never be the same again.

Must look for my old copy though it was my brother's before me.

Words A Day said...

I loved La belle dame sans merci, Because I could not stop for death and Mirror in February...

but to be honest it took me a long time to feel I could read poetry with out some one in the room shouting at me and a snifter of tippex!

I don't remember Fern Hill, will check it out.

Orla Fay said...

I preferred another september to mirror in feb but they are both great poems. It's Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill, it's still lovely. I would have loved to do the new course, even Elizabeth Bishop was/is on it.

Ann said...

Your book looks much like mine did! I no longer have mine though as it was passed down to three younger siblings. Wish I had it now though!

Words A Day said...

Mine was passed down too but I got it back! Sssh...she doesnt know! I suppose thats one advantage of having the same textbook for 31 years!

Brigid said...

'Misogny nostalgia'- is that a new genre? I must keep up. I hate to say it, but I loved that book, and I had it about sixth hand.
I am hoping to see your poems soon in a future version!!

Words A Day said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Words A Day said...

I love my own copy of it...but when i see the leaving cert poetry textbooks today - it strikes me how damaging it was to have (almost)no female poets studied by three decades of Irish school children...

As for future versions!....will ye shtop!:)

Old Kitty said...

Wow. What a poet you are!! That is exactly what an artist should do to these words!! Wow!! I am in AWE!! Wow.

These will be the bestest wordy birds ever although I'd be more inclined to keep the book intact cos you've made it just so amazing!!!

Take care

Kristen Haskell said...

Oragami birds hanging from a mobile would be a lovely tribute. I have old textbooks that look like that too! Or at least I think I do unless one day I up a ferreted them away. Been doing that a lot lately. Lightening the load so to speak.

Jan Morrison said...

I love this! I wish you'd collage those gorgeous pages - blow them up huge huge huge and collage them and on top print a poem by your favourite female poet or yourself! Yes! What about Abbe Sonnett or even Elizabeth the first if they had to go all ancient on ya! And all your lovely Irish women poets! Jeez, how did they arise without being loved. They fucking persisted is what they did. It makes me so mad I could spit nails. Like a nail gun. What did Margaret Atwood say -
You Fit Into Me

You fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye

Margaret Atwood

Why don't you have a favourite woman poet day on your blog? And you can take that book and paste one onto each page. I'd like to help with that. We could probably get a government grant for that. They like to pay to be reminded of how badly they treated great hunks of their population - at least they do in Canada.