Island man

Grace Nichols


Life on a Caribbean Island

Life in London

Guyana: • Country on the north coast of South America; • One of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere; • Gained independence from Britain in 1966.


•A man who used to

live on a Caribbean island still dreams of this place even now when he lives in London.

Island Man
Morning and island man wakes up to the sound of blue surf in his head the steady breaking and wombing wild seabirds and fishermen pushing out to sea the sun surfacing defiantly from the east of his small emerald island he always comes back groggily groggily Comes back to sands of a grey metallic soar to surge of wheels to dull North Circular roar muffling muffling his crumpled pillow waves island man heaves himself Another London day

Island Man Clear link with other traditions This word has (for a Caribbean island man in London many who still wakes up to the sound of associations, but the sea) the predominant image is one of Morning comfort and And island man wakes up security To the sound of blue surf In his head The steady breaking and wombing very positive image wild seabirds and fisherman pushing out to sea Note the the sun surfacing defiantly vibrant from the east colours of his small emerald island Repetition, as if he always comes back groggily he cannot groggily believe it, or is reluctant to acknowledge

Alliteration with the letter 's'

Change of perspective here a busy road around London Suggest comparison of a man heaving himself on to an island Capital letters but no punctuation in poem

Comes back to sands of a grey metallic soar to surge of wheels to dull North Circular road muffling muffling his crumpled pillow waves island man heaves himself Another London day

Colour contrast, not vibrant but drab

Repetition, as if he cannot believe it, or is reluctant to acknowledge Stark last line, physically isolated, with no preposition or verb

Grace Nichols

• Ideas:
– Comparing the simple beautiful way of life on a Caribbean island to the noise and rush of a modern city – When far away from home some people will over idealise it – Never forget where you come from

• Attitudes:
– Island man does not seem to feel at home in London therefore there is a sense of being out of place and not belonging – The opportunities of London are far removed from the beauties of the Caribbean

• Feelings:
– – – – Homesick Idealising the past / previous home Regret Dull repetitive nature of present working life

Metaphor Personificatio n Alliteration • sands / of a grey metallic soar (London as an unpleasant beach) • the sun surfacing defiantly • to dull North Circular roar • sun surfacing • Stanza 3 = Sands, soar, surge (like the sounds of the sea) • groggily groggily • muffling muffling


Island Man
• There is no punctuation in the poem.
Why? What image does the Island man have in his head? How does the poet’s choice of language reflect that image?

• There are more capital letters on the

second part of the poem. Why? Think of the formality of capital letters.

Island Man
Island: • “blue surf” • “wild seabirds” • “fishermen” • “emerald island” London: • “grey metallic soar” • “to surge of wheels” • “dull North Circular roar” • “Another London day”

Back to exams…
• The question will name ONE poem, you
must choose the other • Use the wording of the question at the beginning and end of EVERY paragraph • Relate everything you write to the question

The more points you make the higher the grade!

Sample Exam Question

•How does “Blessing”

and one other poem from this selection, show the importance of culture and cultural background

Planning a response to the question on poetry from other cultures
When planning an answer to the question on poems from other cultures do not consider one poem and then another and then try to make comparisons in your conclusion. You should be comparing (discussing similarities) and contrasting (considering differences) the poems throughout your essay.
This will also help you to ANALYSE the poems rather than simply DESCRIBING them. E.g. You don’t get m(any) marks for saying, ‘there is a metaphor in the first stanza’ but you will get credit for writing, ‘the poet compares her use of language to a flower which shows

Language / Themes/Techniques
What is the subject of each poem?


‘Island Man’

Describe the poet’s tone and attitude. How does the poet use rhythm to suit the subject matter? How does each poet bring the environment / place to life? How are the people presented in each poem? (Look at how the poet describes their actions, for example.)

How does each poet use imagery?

Does each poet use unconventional forms? If so, why? (e.g. lack of punctuation, short line lengths, and unusual layout).

‘Island Man’: Evoking Place Using ‘Island Man’ as an influence, write a postcard to a friend from either: a tropical island a bustling city centre Describe the place as you have experienced it. Use experience and / or imagination!

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