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Writing about Poetry. Hotel Room 12 th Floor. Task. Choose a poem which is strongly linked to a specific location. Show how the poet captures the essence of the location and exploits this to explore an important theme. Specific location : New York

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writing about poetry

Writing about Poetry

Hotel Room 12th Floor

slide2
Task
  • Choose a poem which is strongly linked to a specific location.
  • Show how the poet captures the essence of the location and exploits this to explore an important theme.
slide3

Specific location: New York

  • Essence of this location: barbarity, violence and poverty, which the glitter and glamour of famous landmarks cannot disguise.
  • Important theme: civilisation and savagery. Modern capitalist societies may believe they are completely civilised. However, beneath their façade of wealth and technological progress lies the continuation of man’s inhumanity to man.
topic sentences
Topic Sentences
  • Clearly state the topic of that paragraph
  • Link to the previous paragraph
  • Link to your task
example
Example
  • Previous paragraph- use of imagery at poem’s outset to mock New York’s landmarks while also hinting at the violence that lurks beneath.
  • New paragraph- How the contrast between day and night is used to darken the poem’s mood.
  • Topic sentence: MacCaig’s initially light-hearted depiction of New York becomes increasingly unsettling when the poem shifts from day to night.
quotations
Quotations
  • At least two per paragraph.
  • The majority of these should be shorter, embedded quotations.
  • This is reinforced through the word choice of ‘damaged’, which suggests something imperfect or broken- much like MacCaig’s view of New York society.
  • In the first stanza, the speaker, who is isolated in his hotel room, looks out at the famous skyline and sees a ‘helicopter skirting like a damaged insect’.
analysis
Analysis
  • Identify techniques
  • Explain how they work-connotations of certain words, break down parts of imagery etc.
  • Explain how these help depict New York/ explore the relationship between civilisation and savagery, or both.
slide8

“But now Midnight has come in

from foreign places.”

MacCaig’s use of personification here helps to create an impression that the darkness that night time brings is an unwelcome invader, almost like an enemy army. The sense of unease that this brings is compounded by the use of present tense, which creates a sense of danger and immediacy. Midnight is used throughout the poem by MacCaig to symbolise the savagery and propensity to violence that is part of the human condition.

introduction
Introduction
  • Mention the poet’s name and the poem’s title (correctly punctuated)
  • Respond to both parts of your task (but do not simply repeat them).
  • Display your understanding of the poem’s central concerns.
slide10

‘Hotel Room 12th Floor’, by Norman MacCaig, depicts one of the world’s most famous locations- the New York skyline. The speaker’s internal monologue creates a picture of modern capitalist society's most famous city, which becomes infected with creeping dread and despair. As the poem progresses, the violence which lies beneath the glitter of the Big Apple becomes increasingly apparent. This helps conveys MacCaig’s fundamental theme: man’s savagery and propensity to violence have never disappeared and are never far away.

paragraph structure
Paragraph Structure
  • Simple PEAR
  • Point
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Return to task
  • Positives- clear structure
  • Negatives- too simplistic; repetitive; can reduce the use of quotations.
posh pear
Posh Pear
  • Point
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Return to task
slide13

At the poem’s outset, MacCaig uses unusual imagery to create a powerful impression of some of New York’s most famous buildings. In the first stanza, the speaker, who is isolated in his hotel room, looks out at the famous skyline and sees a ‘helicopter skirting like a damaged insect’. This original and striking simile is effective because it captures the movement of the helicopter and its size when viewed from a distance. It also makes the helicopter seem insignificant, as this astonishing feat of modern technology is reduced to little more than a fly. This is reinforced through the word choice of ‘damaged’, which suggests something imperfect or broken- much like MacCaig’s view of New York society.

slide14

At the start of the poem MacCaig adopts a light-hearted tone, and his powerful use of imagery creates a striking picture of the city during the day, in contrast to the terrors of the night. ‘..helicopter skirting like a damaged insect ..’. This simile creates a light-hearted atmosphere and has a humorous effect on the reader. This is because the helicopter is a huge piece of powerful machinery but MacCaig makes it seem minute. This is in contrast to the next image which is playful to an extent, but also has dark connotations:

”Empire State building, that jumbo size dentist’s drill,”

This metaphor may be conceived as harmless, but to some a dentist’s drill could be their worse fear. Also the fact that it is “jumbo sized” makes it seem terrifying. This gargantuan image overpowers everything it looms over, and would make passers by seem tiny and powerless. This is an example of foreshadowing, which prepares the reader for the steady progression, not just of day to night, but also in the poem from light to a more dark tone. These images bring the city to life, and are in stark contrast to the later images of “blood glazed on the sidewalks.”, but prepare the reader for the night. During the day MacCaig uses playful images and creates on the whole a humorous atmosphere. This is a clear contrast to when MacCaig is describing the events of the night, which he brings to life using more disturbing imagery.