Simon Armitage: The Clown Punk

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  • Simon Armitage: The Clown Punk
    • Subject
      • poem describes encounter with the eponymous clown punk
        • tattooed, slightly tragic character
        • presses his face against windscreen of narrator's car
        • frightens children sitting in backseat
        • based on a real person
    • Structure
      • single stanza of 24 lines
      • lines are pentameters (10 syllables each)
    • Language
      • Sound
        • vocab is northern: "slathers his daft mush"
        • rhyme in phrase "town clown" = creation of a comic image
      • Imagery
        • strongly visual poem
        • simile: "a basket of washing that got up and walked, towing a dog on a rope"
          • conjures up image of a shambolic person
        • encourages us to think sympathetically
          • how a person will look in old age when tattoos become "sad"
            • "think what he'll look like in thirty years"
        • vocab links with art/painting: "ink", "daubed", and "dyed"
    • Attitudes, themes and ideas
      • Clown punk either frightening or comic but narrator warns: "don't laugh"
      • almost dismissive tone to the poem
        • suggested in descriptive phrases like "basket of washing" and "daft mush"
          • maybe used to make the punk seem less threatening to children in car
      • clown punk someone we try to avoid or might mock
        • Armitage makes us see him in another light, even pity him
    • Comparison
      • Give
        • each main characters are someone not part of coventional society
        • both characters make a scene by getting too close to an audience
        • character in Clown Punk doesn't get to speak to us unlike character in Give
      • Horse Whisperer
        • both poems bring us face to face with unusual character
        • focus on physical detail
          • but in Horse Whisperer its about horses and not human character
        • in both main characters, there's a suggestion of change over time


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