Bob Dylan – Nobel Laureate

Standard

American singer-songwriter has today been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. He is the first singer-songwriter to win the award and the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.

He was born on 24th May 1941 in Minnesota and began writing and performing in his teenager years and has not stopped since.

Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sarah Danius, said later: ‘We we’re really giving it to Bob Dylan as a great poet – that’s the reason we awarded him the prize. He’s a great poet in the English tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards. And he’s a very interesting traditionalist, in a highly original way. Not just the written tradition, but also the oral one; not just high literature, but also low literature.’

Author Salman Rushdie stated that he was delighted with Dylan’s win and said that his lyrics ‘had been an inspiration to me all my life since I first heard a Dylan album at school.’

Prof Seamus Perry, chair of the English faculty at Oxford University, compared Dylan’s talent to that of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, calling the songwriter ‘representative and yet wholly individual, humane, angry, funny and tender by turn; really, wholly himself, one of the greats’.

Author Joyce Carol Oates said there should be no question about Dylan’s work being considered literature, praising the academy’s ‘inspired and original choice’.

Not everyone was overjoyed by the announcement, however. Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, said that although he was a Dylan fan ‘this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies’.

Here is one of my favourites:

Poems written by First Year Students

Standard

First year students have been very busy already this year, writing poems on topics that are of personal interest to them.

One such poem was written by Ife Jawando on 28th September 2016 as part of Bullying Awareness Week in the school. Have a read of this thought-provoking piece of work:

 

I don’t know why I do what I do.
But all you know is that people hate you.
You try and try to change
I take my anger out on the firing range.

I try to be a better person.
But my situation finds a way to worsen.
I hear all screaming and crying.
If I said I was nice I’d by lying.

I get no attention at home.
People wish I was sent away to Rome.
Got a mum, but not a dad.
She is always so sad.

They say my temper is a fad.
I do not know why I get so mad.

 

This next poem was written by Ruairí Costigan on 30th September 2016. It is on the ever-present news topic of violence caused by drugs and gang feuds.

 

Gang Wars

Bang bang he is dead,
I wish we could’ve just broke bread.
In these gang wars no one is keeping scores.
For the battles I have fought
My family are being sought.
To them my kids’ lives do not matter;
From them I only hear
Sadistic laughter.
Good men’s blood drips from tables: 
Because this job is dangerous but the income is stable.
Good men’s blood drips from chairs:
This could’ve stopped with warning flares.
Good men’s blood drips from the wall:
May name it seems to call.
It’s a sweet adolescent sound telling me
Civilians are buried underground.
The voice is softly spoken – 
I reject it for my soul has been broken.
Nothing to me is trustworthy;
To my family I am unworthy.
I’m now counting my days.
I’m now a man that prays.
I know my soul is diminished.
I know my life is finished.
And it’s all for fame and glory,
This is how I must end my story.
I am sorry for my family – to you I lied.
I am sorry to the families of those who died.
I am sorry to those I made join my side . . . 

 

I’m sure you’ll agree that these are powerful and moving poem. They show the great potential that we have here in our First Year group – we shall be expecting a continuation of this high standard from them as the year progresses.

Analysing the paper

Standard

Some students gain comfort from analysing the poets that have come up in the past. Here is a quick overview of the last few years:

2015
John Montague
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Robert Frost
Thomas Hardy

2014
W.B. Yeats
Emily Dickinson
Philip Larkin
Sylvia Plath

2013
Elizabeth Bishop
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Derek Mahon
Sylvia Plath

2012
Thomas Kinsella
Adrienne Rich
Philip Larkin
Patrick Kavanagh

2011
Emily Dickinson
W.B. Yeats
Robert Frost
Eavan Boland

2010
W.B. Yeats
Adrienne Rich
Patrick Kavanagh
T.S. Eliot

2009
Derek Walcott
John Keats
John Montague
Elizabeth Bishop

2008
Philip Larkin
John Donne
Derek Mahon
Adrienne Rich

2007
Robert Frost
T.S. Eliot
John Montague
Sylvia Plath

2006
John Donne
Thomas Hardy
Elizabeth Bishop
Michael Longley

2005
Eavan Boland
Emily Dickinson
T.S. Eliot
W.B. Yeats

2004
Gerard Manley Hopkins
Patrick Kavanagh
Derek Mahon
Sylvia Plath

2003
John Donne
Robert Frost
Sylvia Plath
Seamus Heaney

2002
Elizabeth Bishop
Eavan Boland
Michael Longley
Shakespeare’s Sonnets

2001
Elizabeth Bishop
John Keats
Philip Larkin
Michael Longley

Past exam questions on Philip Larkin

Standard

2014
‘Larkin is a perceptive observer of the realities of ordinary life in poems that are sometimes illuminated by images of lyrical beauty.’
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the above statement? Support your answer with reference to both the themes and language found in the poetry of Philip Larkin on your course.

2012
‘Larkin’s poems often reveal moments of sensitivity which lessen the disappointment and cynicism found in much of his work.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement? Support your answer with suitable reference to the poetry of Philip Larkin on your course.

2008
‘Writing about unhappiness is the source of my popularity.’
In the light of Larkin’s own assessment of his popularity, write an essay outlining your reasons for liking / not liking his poetry. Support your points with the aid of suitable reference to the poems you have studied.

2001
Write and essay in which you outline your reasons for liking and / or not liking the poetry of Philip Larkin. Support your points by reference to the poetry of Larkin you have studied.

Questions on Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

Standard

Eiléan Ní Chilleanáin is a relatively new poet on the course and has only appeared once on the Leaving Certificate exam so far. What a lovely question about this wonderful poet!

2015
‘Ní Chuilleanáin’s demanding subject matter and formidable style can prove challenging.’
‘Discuss this statement, supporting your answer with reference to the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin on your course.

Here are some other sample questions on Ní Chuilleanáin:

‘Ní Chuilleanáin is a truly imaginative poet, exploring other worlds and realms in an inventive fashion.’
Write a response to this statement, supporting your answer with reference to the poems you have studied.

 

‘Ní Chuilleanáin’s poetry reflects her interest in traditional worlds and is rich in symbolism and allusion.’
To what extent do you agree or disagree with this assessment of her poetry? Support your answer with suitable reference to the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin.

 

‘Ní Chuilleanáin writes about people and places in poems full of vivid imagery.’
Write your response to this statement, supporting your answers with suitable reference to the poetry of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin on your course.

 

‘Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin writes on public and private themes in a way that engages and fascinates.’
To what extent do you agree with this statement? Support the points you make with suitable reference to the poems by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin on your course.

 

To help you come to a fuller understanding of this poet’s work, Poetry Ireland has recorded Ní Chuilleanáin reading her poem ‘All For You’. She then gives an interpretation of this poem, along with a discussion of other aspects of poetry. You can watch this recording for yourself here.

First year debate

Standard

A massive congratulations to class 1A3 which has emerged as the champions from last Friday’s 1st year debate. The three debates were hotly contested and many excellent speakers demonstrated their talent in trying to convince us of the merits of their given topic.

The first debate:
That city life is better than country life.
1A2 was represented by Luka McGrath, Jack Taaffe and Abdul Mhueez Olaosebikan for the proposition and 1A1 was represented by Rapha Diamond-Ebbs, Louis Mbikakeu and Evan Logue for the opposition. With well-researched and informative speeches, the motion was narrowly defeated.

Abdul, Jack and Luka from 1A2

Abdul, Jack and Luka from 1A2

 

Rapha, Evan and Louis from 1A1

Rapha, Evan and Louis from 1A1

The second debate:
That teenagers spend too much time on computers.
This motion saw 1A3 achieve their first victory with very well delivered speeches from Yasmin Hanratty, Emma Mullen and David Alabi for the proposition. Val Farrell, Ignas Prakapas and Anthony Ryan valiantly opposed the motion for 1A2.

David, Emma and Yasmin from 1A3

David, Emma and Yasmin from 1A3

 

Val, Ignas and Anthony from 1A2

Val, Ignas and Anthony from 1A2

 

The third debate:
That history is an important subject in school.
The history department at Franciscan College Gormanston heaved a collective sigh of relief as this motion was carried. The debating talents of 1A3 were again on display through the persuasive skill of Ruth Flanagan, Megan O’Toole and Sarah-Jane Byrne. The proved to be too skillful for the courageous debaters of 1A1 – Sarah Browne, Edward Hamilton and Ewan Costigan.

 

Sarah-Jane, Megan and Ruth from 1A3

Sarah-Jane, Megan and Ruth from 1A3

Sarah, Edward and Ewan from 1A1

Sarah, Edward and Ewan from 1A1

 

The amount of preparation put into each of the speeches was clear to see and this was a contest that every team wanted to win. The speakers did themselves and their teachers proud and we look forward to many more heated debates as these very hard working classes move into second year.

All first years attended the debates and the students who did not have the opportunity to represent their class this year are very eager to do so next year.

All first years would like to extend a very sincere thank you to Ms Ryan and Mr Buckley who were faced with the very difficult task of adjudicating all three debates and to Eoin Gormley and Sean Landers from 5th year who were our very capable Chairperson and Timekeeper.

Sean and Eoin from 5th year

Sean and Eoin from 5th year

Past exam questions on the poetry of Thomas Hardy

Standard

The poetry of Thomas Hardy has been examined only twice in the past 20 years – that was in 2006 and 1998. Here are the questions that were asked:

2006
‘What Thomas Hardy’s poetry means to me.’
Write an essay in response to the above title.
Your essay should include a discussion of his themes and the way he expresses them. Support the points you make by reference to the poetry on your course.

1998
‘Hardy’s poetry is striking in its lyrical expression of the joys and misfortunes of life.’
Discuss this statement, supporting your answer by quotation from or reference to the poetry by Hardy on your course.