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Caribbean Journal of Education

Poetry in Film: Performance, Identity, and Crisis

This paper will examine the way poetry – and particularly the performance of poetry by adolescent characters – is represented in film. The paper argues that film offers a space within which it is possible to reflect in particularly probing ways on the relationship between poetry’s often contradictory roles in both expressing cultural norms and enabling repressed, neglected or forbidden aspects of individuals’ experience to be articulated. In particular, the performance of poetry by adolescents in films often takes place in dramatized contexts where the exercise of institutional authority is being questioned and individuals are undergoing difficult forms of personal transformation, awakening or development. Analysis and comparison of some exemplary instances in which the performance of poetry plays a central role in such struggles reveals much about the continued potency of poetic forms in an era when mainstream poetry itself has come to be widely perceived as either marginal or irrelevant to most ordinary people’s lives.
Focusing on three films from different decades in particular (Splendor in the Grass; Dead Poets Society; and The History Boys) but with reference to a wider range of examples from different cultural contexts too,the paper will examine how films may challenge mainstream classroom pedagogies and model some of the complex ways in which the poetic is imbricated in life experiences.

Publication Date: 
Tuesday, 25 May 2021
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