Notes - The Clown Punk

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The Clown Punk
Things to think about:-
1. The speaker is an objective recorder of events.
2. The punk is merely playing up to our expectations.
3. The children are frightened by the punk's face on the windscreen.
4. The poem judges the punk.
5. The speaker's views and language show he does not like the punk.
Possible views:-
1. The punk conforms to our expectations.
2. The speaker reduces the punk to a series of images so that he can understand him
better.
3. The speaker is an adult, and his words are aimed at the children in the car and not at
adult readers.
Example opinion:-
'The punk conforms to our expectations'
I think the statement is debatable, depending on an individual. Although the punk lives up to
the poet's expectations - "three times out of ten you'll see the town clown" - the
expectations of someone else may not be the same. Therefore, the aforementioned
statement shows that the poet expects the punk to be slightly weird, but others may not
have the same thoughts.
Additional comments:-
2 different types of people meet
The poet is judgemental of the punk and stereotypes him
The poem has a deliberate structure
It is loosely based in the form of a sonnet (10 syllables per line, 14 lines) - It is trying to
be ironic
Background information:-
The poem tells of a homeless person Simon Armitage used to see around. On one occasion
the homeless man washed Armitage's windscreen and in that moment they looked into
each other's eyes and shared something. The Clown Punk is an outsider in every sense. First
of all he is a homeless person, who unfortunately are very much outcast in our society; they
are largely ignored and some people are repulsed by them, like the children in the back seat.
In addition to this, Armitage's Clown Punk looks particularly intimidating with his high punk
tattoos and sunken cheeks. His tattoos seem to speak of a different stage in the man's life,
perhaps when he was younger.
The fact that the speaker calls him the 'Clown Punk' seems derogatory, as if the man is a
joke, but there is arguably something ironically sad about clowns - the painted smiles, the
ragged clothes. In fact there is a long tradition of association between clowns and the
homeless. Charlie Chaplain's most famous character is a homeless person; Chaplain played his
character as a clown and everyone laughed, but not without seeing the tragedy of the man's
life.

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P= Poetic Alliteration - 'shrunken scalp', 'shonky side' - suggest dislike of this side
Techniques of town and also of the punk
Imagery - snapshot in time at the traffic light
Simile - 'like a basket of washing' represents how the poet views the
punk
U= The poem deals with a snapshot in time when the narrator sees a punk
Understanding while waiting at a traffic light.…read more

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