Saturday, March 06, 2010

I think, therefore I am a bit confused

Well, it's Saturday night, and while all you lucky people are out partying or at home, sitting around reading good books or (like Mr Life) watching television (not currently with the feline obstructions as above and below), I'm marking exam papers. Or - you've spotted the deliberate error - I'm not actually marking at this moment. This is a brief break in my red pen hell. But I'm off back to the kitchen table shortly.

Here's a sample. The question was, in essence: how does the poet give us a flavour of a city? The student is writing about Norman MacCaig's "Hotel Room, 12th Floor" which is about New York in the 60s -a good choice of text for this question. Candidates are supposed to analyse the poetic techniques in detail.
Here is the final flourish of the essay. Believe me, it's of much the same standard as the rest.
The poem isn't your typical ryhming poem it is effective in its comparison to real life and what society is like and you can not change life. It seems that nothing has changed in time and there is more voilence outside that every before so the poet is right to think that our society is a bit like the Wild Wild West.* The word choice was very effective giving you a lot to think about when it comes to imagery. Overall the poem had a great contrast and comparisons.

*Note the repetition of "Wild" to add yet one more word of meaningless waffle to this piece.
The good news is that I didn't teach this student. I'm sure my students' exam essays (which someone else will mark) are a lot more insightful and analytical.
You think?
Off I trudge, hoping that the next essay will be a good one. Good ones are so much quicker to mark than bad ones.
(Exit. No bear. Cats)


  1. ... but bad ones give blog fodder!

  2. Oh dear, poor you. We've lived through many nights of red pen hell here in our time. The word effective should be banned by law as for use in any form of critical analysis... At least they don't say 'I think' the poem is.
    At least you're only missing that programme about black cats on TV :-)

  3. The Wild Wild West was a television show (starring Robert Conrad as James West - it was billed as "James Bond on horseback") back in the days when i was a young warthog ... maybe the series is being aired in syndication and is warping young minds in Scotland ... snicker

  4. Well, I'm speechless about the essay. And very sympathetic to your plight? But I'm wondering, what is your kitty looking for? ;-)

  5. Oh, but the fluffy little cats are like miniature bears! My sister had a black cat named Mausbar (there needs to be an umlaut above the "a").

    This makes me glad I am only going to be marking quizzes and essays on HIV in various international populations, less scope for waffling. I hope.

  6. I suppose it's a bit like when my more talkative students gibber on at me in something they think is English and then say, oh but you must correct my mistakes! Where does one start? I can't correct you because I haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about!

    Still I'm sure Norman MacCaig would be glad to know his poem has this student's seal of approval.

    I came back to say, though, that I remembered that I had actually read a Jodi Picault novel! Someone lent me 'Salem Falls', but it was such drivel that I expunged both author and title from my memory! Though I must admit it was page-turning drivel. I visited her website and am astonished that someone who looks so young can possibly have written so many novels! They all seem to be designed for book group reading, based around heavily sensationalised and distorted 'ishoos' with questionnaires built in at the back.

    Cats and Maison Life look gorgeous as ever.

  7. I wonder if your essay writer is related to the person who wrote the statement I read earlier today. The one that described the flat with "lamented flooring".

  8. I think sometimes, given the choice of TV in South Africa, that feline obstruction might be preferable to regular viewing. Isn't it interesting how cats know precisely which objects to sprawl over (keyboards, books, flower boxes) or in front of (computer screens, TVs, precious, breakable mantelpiece treasures) to get the attention they feel they deserve?

  9. Given the amusement those essays seem to provide, your Saturday nights are probably more entertaining than most t.v.shows anyway!

  10. I do not envy you all that marking. But it does provide some lighter moments!

    I would far rather exit with your cats than Bill's bear anytime.