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Caroline
Member
Posts: 4

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

benkell98 at May 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

My favourite poem would have to be 'Eat Me' as I find it to be a disturbing and un-easy topic, that is expressed as an everyday, normal thing illustrated through tone as well as language, I also found it the easiest to annotate and talk about poetic techniques. Whereas in some of the other poems the poetic device were harder to find and also talk about.


Hi benkell98 - what an enigmatic name! I agree it's a great, disturbing poem. Clever how those slim lines and elegant form contain all that transgressive flesh. What do you think about a post-colonial reading of the poem?

May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

Yes, I think there's definitely a gender theme. But I read it also as being a poem in the Romantic tradition, albeit shrunk down to a domestic and comic setting. Basically man's extraordinary hubris in the face of mother nature. Bit like Shelley's Ozymandias.

May 4, 2016 at 2:41 PM Flag Quote & Reply

pol$ki
Member
Posts: 9

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

pol$ki at May 4, 2016 at 2:34 PM

What's your favorite poem and why Mr Bowen?

There are so many to choose from...I admire the Carson - such a clever and difficult rhyme scheme and deep thinking about history. Burnside's also has the philosophical dimension I think is necessary in all great poems. Then there's Heaney, who's got to be one of the greatest poets. But, my personal favourite would be 'The Lammas Hireling', probably. 

Have you ever considered the main protaganist within the poem to have been homosexual in "The Lammas Hireling"? I find it rather suspicious the "warlock" which was caught in the bear trap is "Stark-naked", which goes hand in hand with the final line of the poem "It has been an hour since my last confession." Do you think Duhig intended on implying a homosexual act which was commited? Since homosexuality was incredibly frowned upon in Ireland context wise.

May 4, 2016 at 2:42 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Owen Arkley
Member
Posts: 1

Sorry to join in on the discussion quite late - but my least favourite has got to be 'Eat Me'. Pretty sure most of my class was uncomfortable when we looked at that, no clue how it can be interpreted as sensual.

However, my definite favourite is Chainsaw simply because of how many possible interpretations you can have of it - of course the savagery of gender roles being the predominant one.

May 4, 2016 at 2:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:25 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Thanks Antonia. 'On Her Blindness' is an emotional poem, whereas perhaps 'The Gun' is a little more ideas driven.

I'd agree with 'On Her Blindness' being more emotional. or rather sentimental. It's just 'The Gun'  just seems dull. While the beginning brings in a reader, the rest of the poem seems a little lacking.

Dull? Would bringing a gun into your house be dull? And then all that carnage and the erotic thrill the narrator gets from it. And then that extraordinarily vivid image of the King of Death stepping out of the world of fairy tales or nightmares. Dull?

That's what I mean, the beginning, in which the gun is brought into the house makes a reader stop and think for a moment about the consequences of such an action. Then the imagery and tone, in my opinion begins to falter for the next two stanzas. This could be deliberate, as everything seems to be in a darker tone. Then the next stanza picks up with the gory imagery. The last stanza in particular makes use of imagery. I suppose dull wasn't the right word, maybe off-putting would be more appropriate.

Sorry meant to pick this up earlier Antonia. Yes, you're right about the imagery being queasy, but that's the point, isn't it? We're not quite sure what to make of our narrator, so gleefully ripping and slicing flesh. Feaver certainly subverts expectations about female characters. No dainty damsel this narrator. 

May 4, 2016 at 2:44 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

pol$ki at May 4, 2016 at 2:42 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:37 PM

pol$ki at May 4, 2016 at 2:34 PM

What's your favorite poem and why Mr Bowen?

There are so many to choose from...I admire the Carson - such a clever and difficult rhyme scheme and deep thinking about history. Burnside's also has the philosophical dimension I think is necessary in all great poems. Then there's Heaney, who's got to be one of the greatest poets. But, my personal favourite would be 'The Lammas Hireling', probably. 

Have you ever considered the main protaganist within the poem to have been homosexual in "The Lammas Hireling"? I find it rather suspicious the "warlock" which was caught in the bear trap is "Stark-naked", which goes hand in hand with the final line of the poem "It has been an hour since my last confession." Do you think Duhig intended on implying a homosexual act which was commited? Since homosexuality was incredibly frowned upon in Ireland context wise.

Yes, I think that subtext is definitely there. The hireling's voice also mimics the wife's. 

May 4, 2016 at 2:45 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Owen Arkley at May 4, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Sorry to join in on the discussion quite late - but my least favourite has got to be 'Eat Me'. Pretty sure most of my class was uncomfortable when we looked at that, no clue how it can be interpreted as sensual.

However, my definite favourite is Chainsaw simply because of how many possible interpretations you can have of it - of course the savagery of gender roles being the predominant one.

No need to apologise, Owen, this is a drop by session. You can post, join in or leave any time you like! Are you at all persuaded by the discussion thus far about Eat Me? Doesn't it rather brilliantly create a dysfunctional and exploitative narrative? 

May 4, 2016 at 2:47 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Jonny English
Member
Posts: 1

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

Yes, I think there's definitely a gender theme. But I read it also as being a poem in the Romantic tradition, albeit shrunk down to a domestic and comic setting. Basically man's extraordinary hubris in the face of mother nature. Bit like Shelley's Ozymandias.

I agree. There's definitely a connection made between humanity (possibly specifically masculinity?) and violence in contrast to the natural word embodied by the pampas grass (feminine descriptions relating to Mother Nature perhaps). It's quite interesting that despite the contradictory language Armitage uses, both the chainsaw and the pampas grass are gender neutral. Perhaps something could be made of our own preconceptions of gender here.

May 4, 2016 at 2:48 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Matthias
Member
Posts: 6

Mikey Meally at April 29, 2016 at 10:16 AM

Matthias at April 29, 2016 at 6:34 AM

Is there any analysis on the poem effects I am going to get the book soon however currently can't 

Hi Matthias

I have already posted something on Effects [go to page 3 of this forum].  It's about the unusual rhyme scheme Jenkins employs in the poem.  However, here is something else on the poem.  This discussion explores the use of poignant synechdoche in the poem as well as the warts-and-all presentation of the relationship between poetic speaker and mother.  Hope it is of some use.


Sentimental Synecdoche

A fancy Greek term for how the part can be substituted for the whole (i.e. ‘sails’ for ‘ships’ and ‘suits’ for ‘business types’ the poem excels in its equation of mundane everyday objects with the recently deceased. Jenkins vividly captures how ordinary personal effects can contain such latent power through their ability to store vast reservoirs of memory.


 

The speaker will not have access to the hands of his beloved mother in the future. But he/she will have the things that adorned them: ‘her rings’ and her ‘classic ladies’ model, gold strap’ ‘watch’. Both items replace the mother after death’s annihilating effect. In fact, the mini-mystery of the watch that ‘was gone’ propels the poem into a series of episodic accounts that convey her descent into senility. Jenkins uses anaphora (the repetition of ‘not’ at the start of poetic lines) as a stimulus to memorialisation. Seeing the dead mother’s hand without the ‘gold strap’ watch compels the speaker to think of that same hand with the watch.


 

The sequence of memories triggered by the watchless hand is a heartbreaking condensation of the mother’s abject loneliness: From the death of her husband, to her ‘scotch’ soaked failure to cope, to her admittance to ‘the psychiatric ward’. The poem ends by bestowing huge value on ‘the little bag of her effects’. Their value does not come from their status as independent objects in their own right; rather it is their dependence on their previous owner that renders them valuable. Essentially worthless personal effects become repositories of the past, makers of memory that bring the dead back to life, if only in the most figurative of ways.



The taste of disdain

The oddly sour relationship between the mother and child is conspicuous in Effects. The poet is unflinching in his refusal to idealise the deceased; there are no funereal clichés such as ‘she was the best mum a son could ever have’. Admirably, the minutiae of life are depicted as sharply and realistically as those of aging and death. The reality of their relationship is characterised by the son’s ‘disdain’ and ‘contempt’ for his mother.


 

The speaker’s mother is ‘old-fashioned’ and backwards in her insistence on ‘bland’ ‘English’ cuisine. She has not, and presumably cannot, move with the times. This is a woman who embodies the narrow spirit of the Little Englander, in how she prefers the ‘familiar flavours’ of the ‘bland’ to ‘funny foreign stuff’. Jenkins’ wealth of f-sounds introduces an element of the conflict between the two. Her designation of anywhere outside England as ‘abroad’, which Jenkins is careful to put into speech marks, suggests a closed-minded woman stuck in the past. Her voice is captured in tiny, trivial soundbites that capture her ordinariness.


 

Not that the speaker comes across as noble character either. The poem is surprisingly candid in this regard. Here we have a man full of snobbish ‘disdain’ and ‘contempt’ for a woman no more to blame for being a product of her time than he is. Telling little details like when he confesses to ‘all the weeks I didn’t come’ in the traumatic loss of her husband betray a cold, uncaring personality. Even when he recognises her domestic toil as ‘giving love the only way she knew’ he cannot help his ‘disdain’ for her backward ways and unsophisticated interests. Most damning is the heartrending moment at the end of the poem where she begs him to ‘Please don’t leave’. Jenkins’ only italicisation of her speech and also his use of a forceful molossus [three stressed beats in a row] maximises the vulnerability of her distress. Tellingly, this is deflated by the casual admission: ‘But of course I left’. There is something too barbed about the mother’s remark about how he ‘grew up and learned contempt’ that implies intense disappointment with the adult speaker. Not only do we get access to his disdain, but also her disdain at his disdain. It is clear that both characters in this intense drama cannot see each other without personal resentment: Jenkins places emphasis on the inability to not see through subtle repetition and variation of language i.e. ‘stared unseeing’, ‘gulped and unseeing’, ‘blinked unseeing’ and ‘blinked and stared’. Symbolically at the end of the poem the mother ‘could not [...] turn her face to see’ her returning son, which implies that reconciliation never happened.


 

However, despite their acrimonious relationship and the lack of reconciliation, there is clearly an intense sense of bereavement. Death seems to defuse the personal antagonisms that life simply could not. Some sort of regret at this situation is suggested in how the speaker reconstructs the pathos of her demise. It is almost as if empathy is only possible after she has passed on. The painful details of her existence on the ‘psychiatric ward’ are nightmarish in their portrayal of an undignified, dehumanising purgatory: TVs ‘blare’ to mask deranged ‘moans and curses’; the patients ‘shuffled round, and drooled, and swore...’. Caesuras, created by the commas, imply an awkward pausing as if the speaker finds it difficult to recount such horrors. More worryingly, the ellipsis at the end of this line allows this recounting to trail off into a guilty silence as if hiding even more horrifying details.

 



thank yuou very muvh for this sorryi missed it

May 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

pol$ki
Member
Posts: 9

If you look at "Eat me" after she kills the man feeding her, do you not think it's loss of control/ some sort of governance? She has suffocating the man who was giving her orders, who was governing her entire life. After she rolls over on him does it not abandon the governance implemented hence making her lose control anyway? I mean where does she go? What does she do now?

May 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Antonia Fox
Member
Posts: 5

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:25 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Thanks Antonia. 'On Her Blindness' is an emotional poem, whereas perhaps 'The Gun' is a little more ideas driven.

I'd agree with 'On Her Blindness' being more emotional. or rather sentimental. It's just 'The Gun'  just seems dull. While the beginning brings in a reader, the rest of the poem seems a little lacking.

Dull? Would bringing a gun into your house be dull? And then all that carnage and the erotic thrill the narrator gets from it. And then that extraordinarily vivid image of the King of Death stepping out of the world of fairy tales or nightmares. Dull?

That's what I mean, the beginning, in which the gun is brought into the house makes a reader stop and think for a moment about the consequences of such an action. Then the imagery and tone, in my opinion begins to falter for the next two stanzas. This could be deliberate, as everything seems to be in a darker tone. Then the next stanza picks up with the gory imagery. The last stanza in particular makes use of imagery. I suppose dull wasn't the right word, maybe off-putting would be more appropriate.

Sorry meant to pick this up earlier Antonia. Yes, you're right about the imagery being queasy, but that's the point, isn't it? We're not quite sure what to make of our narrator, so gleefully ripping and slicing flesh. Feaver certainly subverts expectations about female characters. No dainty damsel this narrator. 

Something else I'd like to point out with 'The Gun', there is a certain amount of irony. the 'King of Death' has 'golden crocuses'. I found this extremely ironic since crocuses symbolise cheerfullness and also used to be given to loved ones on Valentine's day as a sign of being happy with that person. Is the speaker saying they are cheerful about the gun they've brought in?


May 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Jonny English at May 4, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

Yes, I think there's definitely a gender theme. But I read it also as being a poem in the Romantic tradition, albeit shrunk down to a domestic and comic setting. Basically man's extraordinary hubris in the face of mother nature. Bit like Shelley's Ozymandias.

I agree. There's definitely a connection made between humanity (possibly specifically masculinity?) and violence in contrast to the natural word embodied by the pampas grass (feminine descriptions relating to Mother Nature perhaps). It's quite interesting that despite the contradictory language Armitage uses, both the chainsaw and the pampas grass are gender neutral. Perhaps something could be made of our own preconceptions of gender here.

That's interesting Mr English, I'd thought of the chainsaw as being male. Was that anyone else's assumption?

May 4, 2016 at 2:51 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Caroline
Member
Posts: 4

Jonny English at May 4, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

Yes, I think there's definitely a gender theme. But I read it also as being a poem in the Romantic tradition, albeit shrunk down to a domestic and comic setting. Basically man's extraordinary hubris in the face of mother nature. Bit like Shelley's Ozymandias.

I agree. There's definitely a connection made between humanity (possibly specifically masculinity?) and violence in contrast to the natural word embodied by the pampas grass (feminine descriptions relating to Mother Nature perhaps). It's quite interesting that despite the contradictory language Armitage uses, both the chainsaw and the pampas grass are gender neutral. Perhaps something could be made of our own preconceptions of gender here.

Thats a good point, I never deeply acknowledged how there are no genders mentioned. Maybe that in itself also shows how quick we are in society to assume and stereotype based on certain characteristics of something before taking a closer look.

May 4, 2016 at 2:52 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:50 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:44 PM

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:25 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:19 PM

Antonia Fox at May 4, 2016 at 2:17 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:15 PM

Thanks Antonia. 'On Her Blindness' is an emotional poem, whereas perhaps 'The Gun' is a little more ideas driven.

I'd agree with 'On Her Blindness' being more emotional. or rather sentimental. It's just 'The Gun'  just seems dull. While the beginning brings in a reader, the rest of the poem seems a little lacking.

Dull? Would bringing a gun into your house be dull? And then all that carnage and the erotic thrill the narrator gets from it. And then that extraordinarily vivid image of the King of Death stepping out of the world of fairy tales or nightmares. Dull?

That's what I mean, the beginning, in which the gun is brought into the house makes a reader stop and think for a moment about the consequences of such an action. Then the imagery and tone, in my opinion begins to falter for the next two stanzas. This could be deliberate, as everything seems to be in a darker tone. Then the next stanza picks up with the gory imagery. The last stanza in particular makes use of imagery. I suppose dull wasn't the right word, maybe off-putting would be more appropriate.

Sorry meant to pick this up earlier Antonia. Yes, you're right about the imagery being queasy, but that's the point, isn't it? We're not quite sure what to make of our narrator, so gleefully ripping and slicing flesh. Feaver certainly subverts expectations about female characters. No dainty damsel this narrator. 

Something else I'd like to point out with 'The Gun', there is a certain amount of irony. the 'King of Death' has 'golden crocuses'. I found this extremely ironic since crocuses symbolise cheerfullness and also used to be given to loved ones on Valentine's day as a sign of being happy with that person. Is the speaker saying they are cheerful about the gun they've brought in?


Yes they are, because closeness to death sharpens our appetite for life. I analysed this beautiful and to my mind extraordinary image in some detail in the first 'Art of Poetry' book. :)

May 4, 2016 at 2:54 PM Flag Quote & Reply

013.318
Member
Posts: 2

My personal favourite poem would have to be Giuseppe, athoug not a very popular poem. I find the poet uses horrific imagery well. Also the narrative perspective of the young man telling the story which his "Uncle Giuseppe" is interesting as we learn that the narrator is unsure what to feel about this tale. I feel the themes behind the poem such as superiority and equality represent current issues in the world, however in a more horrific way.

May 4, 2016 at 2:55 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:52 PM

Jonny English at May 4, 2016 at 2:48 PM

Neil Bowen at May 4, 2016 at 2:41 PM

Caroline at May 4, 2016 at 2:39 PM

Any ideas on 'Chainsaw vs the Pampas Grass'? I can see the possible interpretation of a relationship between male and female, but I also feel it's quite an ambiguous and confusing peom. Mayber it's supposed to be that way? As if to mirror the aggressive emotions that play a big part in some relationships

Yes, I think there's definitely a gender theme. But I read it also as being a poem in the Romantic tradition, albeit shrunk down to a domestic and comic setting. Basically man's extraordinary hubris in the face of mother nature. Bit like Shelley's Ozymandias.

I agree. There's definitely a connection made between humanity (possibly specifically masculinity?) and violence in contrast to the natural word embodied by the pampas grass (feminine descriptions relating to Mother Nature perhaps). It's quite interesting that despite the contradictory language Armitage uses, both the chainsaw and the pampas grass are gender neutral. Perhaps something could be made of our own preconceptions of gender here.

Thats a good point, I never deeply acknowledged how there are no genders mentioned. Maybe that in itself also shows how quick we are in society to assume and stereotype based on certain characteristics of something before taking a closer look.

Agreed. But, I think the personification of the chainsaw is really an excuse for the male narrator - as if the destruction isn't really his doing. It also suggest that we may create technology whose destructive capacity we cannot really control. 

May 4, 2016 at 2:57 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

013.318 at May 4, 2016 at 2:55 PM

My personal favourite poem would have to be Giuseppe, athoug not a very popular poem. I find the poet uses horrific imagery well. Also the narrative perspective of the young man telling the story which his "Uncle Giuseppe" is interesting as we learn that the narrator is unsure what to feel about this tale. I feel the themes behind the poem such as superiority and equality represent current issues in the world, however in a more horrific way.

Thank you Mr or Miss number. Yes, it's another powerful poem about how we treat things we don't understand. I read the bemonstering of the female character as a form of dehumanising that allows or excuses the barbarity. Do you agree?

May 4, 2016 at 2:59 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 836

Well it's nice to have a chance to stop and think. A kind of half-time break. Anybody want to suggest the best/ most memorable line or image? According to no less an authority than Aristotle the quality of a poet's imagination can be judged by their ablility to use metaphor...Or should I slip off and get a cup of tea? 

May 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

boutnothing
Member
Posts: 11

Sorry to interrupt, I just wondered if you saw my reply about comparing poems via language/form? (The Furthest Distance)...

May 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

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