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Poems of the Decade (Edexcel)

14. Alan Jenkins – Effects

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About this Lecture

Lecture

In this module, we read through Alan Jenkins’ ‘Effects’, focusing in particular on: (i) the multiple meanings of the title; (ii) the use of inverted commas to bring other voices into the poem – ‘funny foreign food’, ‘poor souls’, etc.; (iii) the different periods in the speaker’s mother’s life that we see – as wife, widow, old woman, and (through her reminiscences) young woman; (iv) the themes of dreaming, nostalgia and the past (“dreamt of when she was a girl”); (v) the importance of hands; and (vi) the use of alliteration and rhyme (“Whose fingers couldn’t clasp at mine any more Or falteringly wave, or fumble at my sleeve […] Please don’t leave”).

Course

In this course, John McRae (University of Nottingham) explores the twenty poems that make up the ‘Poems of the Decade’ cluster for A Level English Literature (Edexcel). Each poem is read in detail, with a short commentary highlighting aspects of language, style, themes, motifs, and so on. In the case of Patience Agbabi’s ‘Eat Me’, for example, we think about the extent to which we can identify the speaker of the poem with the author herself, the question of whether the couple of the poem can be decribed as happy, and the influence of Robert Browning’s ‘Porphyria’s Lover’ (1836) and Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ (1865). When we come to Simon Armitage’s ‘Chainsaw Versus the Pampas Grass’, we think about the theme of man versus nature, the concept of ‘anthropomorphisation’, and the final lines of the poem in which it has become clear that the pampas grass has beaten the chainsaw. And so on for the whole selection.

The poems discussed in this course are:
1. Patience Agbabi – Eat Me
2. Simon Armitage – Chainsaw Versus the Pampas Grass
3. Ros Barber – Material
4. John Burnside – History
5. Julia Copus – An Easy Passage
6. Tishani Doshi – The Deliverer
7. Ian Duhig – The Lammas Hireling
8. Helen Dunmore – To My Nine-Year-Old Self
9. UA Fanthorpe – A Minor Role
10. Vicki Feaver – The Gun
11. Leontia Flynn – The Furthest Distances I’ve Travelled
12. Roderick Ford – Giuseppe
13. Seamus Heaney – Out of the Bag
14. Alan Jenkins – Effects
15. Sinéad Morrissey – Genetics
16. Andrew Motion – From the Journal of a Disappointed Man
17. Daljit Nagra – Look We Have Coming to Dover!
18. Ciaran O’Driscoll – Please Hold
19. Adam Thorpe – On Her Blindness
20. Tim Turnbull – Ode on a Grayson Perry Urn

Lecturer

John McRae is Special Professor of Language in Literature Studies and Teaching Associate in the School of English at Nottingham University, and holds Visiting Professorships in China, Malaysia, Spain and the USA. He is co-author of The Routledge History of Literature in English with Ron Carter, and also wrote The Language of Poetry, Literature with a Small 'l' and the first critical edition of Teleny by Oscar Wilde and others.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

McRae, J. (2021, January 09). Poems of the Decade (Edexcel) - Alan Jenkins – Effects [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/poems-of-the-decade-edexcel/alan-jenkins-effects

MLA style

McRae, John. "Poems of the Decade (Edexcel) – Alan Jenkins – Effects." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 09 Jan 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/poems-of-the-decade-edexcel/alan-jenkins-effects

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