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Belfast Confetti

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Ms. Mc Caffrey

on 15 September 2018

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Transcript of Belfast Confetti

Poetic Techniques
Belfast Confetti
What do you know about 'The Troubles?'

How is this war different to the war Sassoon and Owen fought in?
Belfast Confetti
How do you think the title links in with The Troubles in Belfast?
Belfast Confetti
Ciaran Carson

Learning Intention
To examine an unseen poem on the theme of war.
Unseen Poem
Read title - predict content
Read poem twice - once for subject matter the second time to search for techniques and indentify their effect.
If there is an image attached check how it may relate to the poem.
What is theme?
What poems have you studied with the theme of war?
Titles and poets must be accurate
Spellings should be correct
Images from The Troubles
The Poet
Ciaran Carson, born in 1948, is a poet and novelist from Northern Ireland. Born into an Irish-speaking family, he went on to become Professor of English at Queen's University Belfast. He combines a life-long passion for traditional music with a deep interest in politics.

He lived through what became to be known as 'the Troubles'. This was the era of Irish nationalist terrorism that marked UK social and political life from the 1970s to the 1990s. During that time organisations such as the IRA fought to end British rule of Northern Ireland.
The conflict in Northern Ireland began in the 1960s when the minority Catholic population began campaigning against discrimination by the Protestant majority. By the 1970s, some Irish nationalist groups had started using violence to force the UK government to make the region independent of Britain.

British troops became an everyday presence on the streets of Belfast, the Northern Irish capital. At first they had come to protect the Catholics from Protestant violence. Before long they became, to nationalists, symbols of an unwanted army of occupation. Violent clashes between protesters and the 'security forces' (the police and army) were common.
Form and structure
The poem's form is immediately striking. Instead of neat, compact stanzas, the lines are over-long and the stanzas stretched.

On closer inspection, you can see there are two stanzas, the first with five lines, the second with four. Each line, however, spills over so there are additional lines of one or two words. By presenting the poem like this, Carson is expressing the confusion caused by the riot and bomb. For example, with the phrase "And/the explosion/Itself" (lines 3-5), we even end up reading backwards as our eyes have to move from right to left across and down the page.

However, through the confusion of the form and the language, we can see a narrative structure (an organised story). A demonstration has got out of hand and riot police have moved in to control it. The rioters start throwing things and there's an explosion (it is possible the nuts and bolts come from the explosion itself – time may also be confused in the poet's head). The poet runs for safety, trying to make sense of what is happening, but cannot escape.

The place he knows so well becomes a trap and he runs into a check-point where he is held up and questioned by the police.
Language and imagery
The poem is about how the confusion of the riot causes confusion in the mind of the poet. How can he respond to this chaos? These feelings are expressed in the language and imagery, as well as the form.
The title, for example, creates a striking poetic image – the soft alliteration of 'f', in fact it is the sound of a bomb about to go off. The kind of confetti Carson is referring to is the debris falling after an explosion.

The poetic language is also pushed out by harsh, unpoetic words. These are presented in simple lists to express their lack of emotional associations (e.g. line 3).

Carson also lists the street names in lines 11-13. These work both on a literal level (they describe where he lives and how well he knows these streets) but also the metaphoric level. The streets are named after generals and battles and places from the Crimea War, a war the British fought in Victorian times against the Russians. He therefore likens the riot to a battle in a bigger war.

Force is used when spoken communication has broken down. So Carson cannot complete a sentence. All he can think of is punctuation marks with no words to punctuate.

The feeling of the poem is too unstable for the poet to carefully craft rhymes. But there are two key sounds that we can hear – the 'f' of the title, then the 'k' of the cracking social order, of the bomb and of the riot-policemen's truncheons. All but four lines contain one or more examples of the sound.
Attitudes, themes and ideas
The poem seems to be upside down or back-to-front. Instead of starting with a question then answering it, it moves from exclamation marks (in line 1) to question marks (in line 18). Both statements and questions, however, are delivered with equal force (the questions are described as being a "fusillade" which is a round of bullets fired by several guns at once). The point Carson seems to be saying is that under these conditions language is impossible.

He notes the unequal sides in this 'argument'. The riot police have Saracen tanks, wire, "Makrolon face-shields" while the rioters have nuts and bolts and nails and car-keys. As a poet, all he has are words. The weakness of these distresses him.

Where Carson finally succeeds, though, is in expressing this confusion.
Comprehension Q's
Use P.Q.E to answer
1. Explain the title of the poem.
2. What is happening in the poem?
3. How does the poet feel about events?
4. What lines in the poem show this is a modern conflict?
Full transcript