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POEM : THE LIVING

PHOTOGRAPH
BY : JACKIE KAY

My small grandmother is tall there,


straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,
pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
a kind, old smile round her eyes.
Her big hand holds mine,
white hand in black hand.
Her sharp blue eyes look her own death in the eye.
It was true after all that look.
My tall grandmother became small.
Her back round and hunched.
Her soup forgot to boil.
She went to the awful place grandmothers go.
Somewhere unknown, unthinkable.
But there she is still,
in the photo with me at three,
the crinkled smile is still living, breathing.

Background
Poet name : Jackie Kay
Born : Edinburg, Scotland in 1961
Notable works : The Adoption Papers
Awards : 1) Saltire Society Scottish First
Book Award (1991) 2) Somerset
Maugham Award (1994) 3) Guardian First
Book Award Fiction Prize
Occupation : A professor of creative
writing at Newcastle University.

Setting
Time : The poem was
written when the persona
has grown up.
Place : At the family home.

Persona
1.The persona is the poet
herself.
2.She is looking at an old
photograph and is swept
away by memories of her
late grandmother.

Tone & Mood


Tone
Descriptive
Sad
Reminiscing

Mood
Sad
Reflective

Themes
1. Memorise are to be treasured
Looking at old photograph brings back
many treasured memories especially
those of family members.

2. Death is a part of life


Death is an inevitable part of life.
Ageing process affected the
grandmother until she eventually
passes away.

Moral Values
1. We must treasure our loved ones
while they are alive.
2. We must try to accept that death is
a part of life.
3. We must value the importance of
family relationships.

Literary Devices
1.Imagery
Imagery is the used of
words that enable the
reader to visualise a person
or a scene.
In the first stanza, the poet
describes her grandmother
in the photograph so vividly
that the reader is able to

My small grandmother is tall there,


Straight-back, white broderie anglaise shirt,
Pleated skirt, flat shoes, grey bun,
A kind, old smile around her eyes.

Literary Devices
2.Contrast
Contrast refer to the
differences between two
things.
In the first stanza, the poet
describes her grandmother
when she is strong and healthy.
In contrast, the second stanza
shows her getting older and

Contrast
First stanza
My small
grandmother is tall
there,
Straight-back,
white broderie
anglaise shirt,
Pleated skirt, flat
shoes, grey bun,
A kind, old smile
around her eyes.

Second stanza
My tall
grandmother
become small.
Her back round
and hunched.
Her soup forgot to
boil.
She went to the
awful place
grandmothers go.

Literary Devices
3. Personafication
i. Her soup forgot to boil
Meaning : grandmother has
become
forgetful.
ii. The crinkled smile is still living,
breathing
Meaning : grandmothers smile
looks so alive in the photograph.

Literary Devices
4.Symbolism
Symbolism means the use of
objects, plants, or animals to
represent something else.
The photograph represent
the memories the persona
has of her late grandmother.

Literary Devices
5. Irony
Irony refers to the use of words to mean
something very different from what
they appear to be.
The irony is in the title itself. The
Living Photograph, which seems to
suggest that the grandmother is
still alive, in reality she is actually
dead.

Literary Devices
6. Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing means a warning or
indication of a future event.
Last line in the first stanza her
sharp blue eyes look her own
death in the eye foreshadows
what is to happen next. This prove
to be true because in the next
stanza, the grandmother dies.

Summary
7
The poem consists of16____________ lines. There
are
2 lines3in stanza ____
_______ 1lines in6 stanza ____, _______
3 _____ lines in free
and
stanza _____. It is written in
____________ verse where there is no rhyme scheme. The
first
poet
delivers the poem in narrative style using the
experience
persona
____________ person
point of view. The poem
is most
likely based on the poets own ___________________. Thus
grandmother
the ________________ could be the
poet herself. In the
poem, the persona is looking at an old photograph of
herself with her _______________________. It brought back
passed
memories
of a specific time when her grandmother was
alive away/dead
and well. Although, her grandmother has since
__________________________, when the persona looks at
the photograph, she feels the presence of her

Practice 1
1. tall there

Symbol

2. white hand in black


hand

Metaphor

3. crinkled smile

Alliteration

4. still living

Imagery

5. soup forgot to boil

Contrast

6. photo
7. her sharp blue eyes
look her own death in
the eye
8. Straight-back, white
broderie anglaise shirt,

Personafica
tion
Assonance
diction

Practice 2
Phrases
1. tall there, straight
back
2. grey bun
3. white hand in black
hand
4. back round and
hunched
5. look death in the eye
6. but there she is still

Meaning
a) A white person e.g. an
English man with a
black person e.g. a
Nigerian
b) But, contrary to what
you think , she is still
alive.
c) An old person with a
bent back
d) A person with height
and has a good posture
e) White greying hair tied
back like a bun
f) To accept the fact that
one is going to die

Practice 5
1. Skirt
2. Shirt
3. Big hand
4. Black hand
5. Small
6. Round
7. Awful
8. Grey bun
9. Flat shoes
10.photo

Practice 3
1. Broderie anglaise
shirt
2. Kind, old
smile
3. Round and hunched
back
4. Unknown,unthinkable place
5. Living, breathing
smile
6. Sharp, blue
eyes
7. Pleated
skirt
8. Grey
bun
9. Flat
shoes
10.Living
photograph

Practice 4
1.Who wrote the poem?
Jackie Kay.

2.To whom do you think the


title of the poem relate to?
The personas
grandmother.

Practice 4
3. Describe the personas grandmother:
i.

Dressing what did she wear?


A white broderie anglaise shirt and pleated
skirt.
ii. Physical appearance In verse 1, how did the
persona describe her grandmother?
Tall and straight-back.
iii. Facial expression How did her grandmother look?
Kind, smiling and pleasant looking.
iv. Eyes what colour were her eyes?
Blue.
v. What is the skin colour of the persona and
grandmother?

Practice 4
4. What happened to her grandmothers
physical appearance as she aged?
She became small and short with her
back round and hunched.

5. How does the persona describe the


other world? How does this reflect the
personas perception of life after death?
It is described as awful, unknown and
unthinkable. I think she feels the other
world is a terrible unknown place and
she cannot understand the living

Practice 4
6.Answer the following questions
about the photograph.
i. Who are in the photograph?
The persona and her
grandmother.

ii. How old was the persona when


the photograph was taken?
Three years old.

SPM Practices

SPM Practices
a)In stanza 1, which words mean
open embroidery on white
linen?
Broderie anglaise.

b)Describe the grandmothers skirt


and shoes?
The skirt was pleated and the
shoes were flat.

SPM Practices
c) Why do you think the grandmother forgot to
boil the soup?
I think she was getting old and forgetful.

d) Look her own death in the eye


where do you think the persona was when
the grandmother passed away? Provide a
reason for your answer.
Where : By the grandmothers side.
Reason : The persona mentions her big
hands hold mine.