Poetry – Jackie Kay and the Eight Marker

To answer the 8 marker fully you must:
identify the commonality (the similarity). This will most likely be a theme, setting or characterisation used. Then tell me how you see it in the first poem (1 mark) Then tell me how you see it in the other poem(1 mark).
Referring to/quoting from the extract in front of you (1 mark) and analysing it (1 mark) in detail will get you the next two marks.
Quote (1 mark) and analyse (1 mark) from another Kay poem.
Quote (1 mark) and analyse (1 mark) from another Kay poem.

Here’s a sample to look at using questions on Divorce:

With close textual reference, show how the theme of family relationships is explored in this poem, and in at least one other poem by Jackie Kay.

The speaker thinks that other parents are lovely and angelic. We know this as she says ‘whose faces turn up to the light’. The word choice here of ‘light’ suggests that these parents are good and innocent and never get angry. The idea that they ‘turn’ their faces to the light also suggests that they chose to be happy. Secondly, there is a metaphor saying the parents ‘speak in the soft murmur of rivers’. This makes clear that the parents are nice as their voices are relaxing and calming and never loud like the sound of a gentle river.
55. In verse two, the tone becomes soft and gentle. There is a metaphor that does this when it says ‘sing in the colourful voices of rainbows’. Here the happiness of rainbows is being compared to the happiness of the parents voices singing which creates a kind and calm image.
Divorce and Keeping Orchids are two poems by Jackie Kay that share the theme of family relationships, specifically the relationship between a child and her parents. In Divorce the relationship is strained as a small child wants to leave her parents who she has fallen out with. In Keeping Orchids the child is an adult meeting her birth mother for the first time and she recounts the awkwardness of the meeting.
In divorce this idea is put most simply when the speaker uses word choice to say ‘I want a divorce’. The tone here is demanding, the shortness of the sentence makes it clear what the speaker wants and the plosive sounds reinforce the sharpness of her tone.
In Keeping Orchids the awkwardness of the strained relationship is clearly put across when the speaker talks about the orchids her birth mother gave her as having ‘closed buds’. These become a metaphor for the secrets her birth mother has kept from her during the meeting. There is still much she does not know about her genetic mother.
Another way the awkwardness is shown in Keeping Orchids is when it says the mother ‘folds and unfolds’ the bag. This shows she is feeling nervous as the repetition demonstrates the repeated movements and nervous energy of the mum as she fidgets around her daughter. They are both uncomfortable.

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