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Transcript of War Photographer
In his darkroom he is finally alone
with spools of suffering set out in ordered rows.
The only light is red and softly glows,
as though this were a church and he
a priest preparing to intone a Mass.
Belfast. Beirut. Phnom Penh. All flesh is grass.
by Carol Ann Duffy
Look at the following images and try to think of words which describe how you feel when you look at them.
Four Corners Debate
Photgraphers have no right to intrude upon these conflicts/these lives/this pain
These photographers should help the people they observe, not merely document their problems
These photographers have a moral duty to take their pictures and inform the world what is happening in war stricken countries
The St. Petersburg Times in Florida said of Carter:
On 27 July 1994 Carter took his own life by taping one end of a hose to his pickup truck’s exhaust pipe and running the other end to the passenger-side window. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning, aged 33. Portions of Carter's suicide note read:
Won the Pulizter Prize for Feature Photography in 1994
"I swear I got the most applause of anybody," Carter wrote back to his parents in Johannesburg. "I can't wait to show you the trophy. It is the most precious thing, and the highest acknowledgment of my work I could receive..."
"The man adjusting his lens to take just the right frame of her suffering, might just as well be a predator, another vulture on the scene."
I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings and corpses and anger and pain ... of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners ...
‘In the world of British poetry Carol Ann Duffy is a superstar'
Born 1955 in Glasgow
Her poems address issues such as oppression, gender, and violence, in an accessible language that has made them popular in schools.
Was appointed Britain's poet laureate in May 2009. She is the first woman, the first Scot, and the first openly gay person to hold the position.
'Those photographs are in the background but I'm more interested in the photographer... in the dilemma of someone who has that as a job... to go to these places and come back with the images.'
Do you think Duffy’s poem is pro or anti-war photography?
How do the following people react to the war photographs:
The newspaper editor?
There is a clear use of contrast in the poem. What is it between?
Write a brief summary of
in the poem.
What the photographer does
Where the photographer has been
What the photographer thinks about
W/C - in context seems sinister, connotations of death, fear, evil, anger, blood and pain
W/C - suggests he has been trying to be on his own for a long time - to hide from the memories? seeking escape from what he has seen?
emphasising the horrors that lie within the spools - they themselves have
become something terrible
repeated s sound. Harsh, threatening, mirrors camera winding
trying to make order from the chaos he has witnessed. Also conjures image of lines of
which hold death, just like the photos
Simile - linking darkroom to a holy place, suggesting reverence for the job, a deeper truth attached to it, praying for those in the photos. Also suggests confession/guilt - hope for
Short Sentences - mirror the snapshots they describe and perhaps the brevity of life in these places
Places in Europe, the
Middle East, Asia -
these wars happen globally - a whole world in crisis
Biblical reference - lives of
people in these places are expendable/cheap, like fodder. Human life is
Rhyme scheme and rhythm is regular and very controlled throughout the poem. Like the 'ordered rows', trying to create order from chaos. The form of the poem is a way of containing, controlling and dealing with the pain and anger that both the photgrapher and the poet feel.
He has a job to do. Solutions slop in trays
beneath his hands which did not tremble then
though seem to now. Rural England. Home again
to ordinary pain which simple weather can dispel,
to fields which don't explode beneath the feet
of running children in a nightmare heat.
Something is happening. A stranger's features
faintly start to twist before his eyes,
a half-formed ghost. He remembers the cries
of this man's wife, how he sought approval
without words to do what someone must
and how the blood stained into foreign dust.
A hundred agonies in black-and-white
from which his editor will pick out five or six
for Sunday's supplement. The reader's eyeballs prick
with tears between bath and pre-lunch beers.
From aeroplane he stares impassively at where
he earns a living and they do not care.
W/C is ambiguous - suggests both the chemical mixture to develop the photos and also an answer to the problem, a way to solve these issues
Why? Too focused on the job?
Contrast - then/now, there/home. The terror catches up with him.
W/C suggests beautiful, peaceful countryside; an idyllic life at home
W/C - helps to contrast
life at home and in war zones. Emphasises that what he witnessed was extraordinary; life at home now seems so easy/trivial. We feel no realsuffering compared to others.
Suggests we take our safety/well-being for granted
Usually a happy image, but again used to contrast brutally with home; in war stricken places, the innocent suffer
Metaphor - worst fears
realised in these places,
no way to wake up or escape from them. Photographer also trapped in his own nightmare.
What? A photo developing? Or something in his mind? Or something terrible happening out there in the world?
W/C - suggests something sinister, painful, unnatural
Metaphor - both the picture is faint while developing, but also suggests this man died and now haunts the photographer
both approval to take the images
and also seeking reassurance for himself that
making these intrusions is justifiable
W/C - if not him, someone else
W/C - use of imperative - someone HAS to do this. Why? Is it absolutely necessary?
W/C - 'stained' suggests the land (and the photographer are permanently marked by the bloodshed and horror, but this contrasts with 'dust' which is easily blown away.
W/C - emphasies sheer amount of horrors
W/C - extreme, tortuous pain
W/C - ambiguous. Suggests simplicity - people are in pain. Suggests good/evil. Suggest truth/lies
W/C - casual, indifferent
Not even front page or main paper - the extra 'for interest' section
W/C - some emotion, but short, momentary. Not even fully involved, only 'eyeballs'
Contrast - their easy life with the horrors they soon forget
En route to another assignment - both poem and horror are cyclical, never ending.
W/C - he has become numbed
Is just a job for him?
A damning conclusion to the poem. Society does not respond. His work is changing nothing.
Many Possible Essay Focuses...
Relationship between person & place