John Agard: Checking Out Me History

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  • John Agard: Checking Out Me History
    • Subject
      • this poem makes us look at the way history is taught
      • Agard had a follow a history curriculum biased towards whites, especially British white's
      • he learnt about this instead of living black people from the past
      • he challenges this view of history
    • Structure
      • poem alternates between two structures
        • 1st uses repeated phrase "Dem tell me" to indicate white version of history
        • 2nd are stories of three black historical figures
          • Toussaint L'Overture
          • Nanny de Maroon
          • Mary Seacole
          • told using abbreviated syntax with words missed out, shorter lines and irregular rhyme scheme
    • Language
      • Agard uses variations in spelling to suggest Caribbean dialect
        • replacing 'th' with 'd'
          • stresses importance of carving out his own identity
      • there's repeition particularly of 'Dem tell me'- creates a sense of rhythm throughout the poem
      • End rhyme is heavily used emphasised with adapted sections of nursery rhymes
    • Imagery
      • in "dem tell me" sections, poet refers to nursery-rhyme characters and non-historical people e.g robin hood and cow
      • suggestion that the version of history taught to the poet isn't exactly accurate
      • sections on black historical figures contain stronger imagery
        • use of nature metaphors
          • Toussaint L'Overture is a "thorn" and a "beacon"
          • Nanny de Maroon linked wth a mountain, fire and rivers
          • Mary Seacole describes with dramatic imagery "healing star" and a "yellow sunrise" tp patients she treats
        • All three associated with light: "beacon", "fire-women" and "star"- they play metaphorical roles
    • Attitudes, themes and ideas
      • "Dem tell me'' sections have a rebellious tone to them, created by repetition
      • Sections on three black historical figures are celebratory in tone, emphasised by images of nature
      • poem challenges us to consider the meaning of history
      • poet might be provoking us to check out our own histories
    • Comparison
      • Give
        • both poems want to change
        • voice of narrator is stron and direct
        • tone is different: in Give it's sarcastic and Checking out me history is confident
      • Les Grands Seigneures
        • both use historical and fantastical imagery
        • both poems change in power between narrator and other characters
        • narrator of Les Grands Seigneures doesn't carve out her own identity




Some of this makes no sense

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