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Paper 1 Feedback

  • What we choose to write about should act as a magnifying glass in order to show missed details about the poem.

  • They should also be used to make details from the poem more clear, especially when metaphors or figurative language is used.

  • We should not be simply paraphrasing lines from the poem.


  • Don’t just list techniques, explain how they are used effectively to support the deeper meaning.
  • Don’t use two synonyms next to each other as it just adds words but doesn’t actually describe anything.


  • After embedding quotations write the line number next to it.

  • Comment on the title – but not just the literal subject matter.

  • Don’t rely on “connotation” or “imagery” to explain a poem.
    • Unpack the image – how does it reveal a pattern of language? or reveal what is implicit?

  • Mention voice.
  • Recognise the tensions in the poem and the effects on its voice.

Beth Ann Fennelly

Sweet Nothing 

This piece by Fennelly is a lot similar to Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, especially in terms of the style of the writing. In this piece the detailed and observant description of the body is similar to the way that Bechdel describes the bodies in the funeral home. For example, description of the body includes “urine-coloured eyes,” “distended belly,” and “palsied hands.” Additionally, the situation is similar to Fun Home where the father dies and the speaker recalls this moment and thinks about from a future perspective.

Married Love

Fennelly’s pieces also reflect similar themes to Sappho of love, and shows a slight progression in terms of marriage life; going from the sublime, referring to the fantasy and intimacy of new marriage to the banal, referring to the everyday life situations that she encounters.

Bechdel and Sappho

Gradual Impact by Alison Bechdel

  • In all the panels except one, Alison has a rather bland and mundane expression when she is with Tamar, although continues to spend time with her. We get the idea that although Alison wants to want Tamer, she cannot. This is exemplified when Alison explicitly states that she “was uncomfortable with [Tamar’s] beauty. Her flawless skin,” which suggests that Alison did not feel good enough to be with someone so ‘perfect’ in her eyes. Alison mentions that Tamar’s beauty “left [her] nothing to latch on to,” almost as she was forcing herself not to become attached, and therefore meant that it would be easier to part permanently. However through the older persona of Alison, as readers we can acknowledge the fact that maybe Alison did at some point feel an emotional attachment, and therefore might have regretted “ended things with Tamar.” For example, in the first panel, the persona questions “what the fuck was my problem?” which through the use of vulgar language, we can immediately sense Alison’s frustration and slight disappointment, still thirty years later. In the last few panels of the story, we can see Alison (30 years older) thinking about Tamar by “[finding] her immediately [online]” and admiring her “magnificent hands,” which indicates Alison’s previously compressed affection towards Tamar. However, the last panel shows a sense of sadness and vulnerability as Alison reads an inscription that Tamar wrote, which was “to you, and to me,” instead of “to us,” which might suggest that Alison did not give Tamar the chance for them to become an “us” and therefore left Tamar thinking of them as two individuals that would eventually part.
  • I think that Bechdel is challenging the typical alignment of beauty and desire, which is that those that have flawless beauty are those who we as human beings desire more. However, through this story, Bechdel shows that Tamar’s beauty was overwhelming and perhaps distracting in the sense that Bechdel found difficulty in the thought of having an emotional and meaningful relationship with Tamar. Alison even questions “why wasn’t [she] falling for [Tamar]?” even though “she was so beautiful,” which implies the idea that one must fall in love with someone of immense beauty.
  • In comparison with Fun Home, Bechdel uses similar styles and themes that allow readers to recognise her different works. For example, Bechdel includes other pieces of literature such as “My dinner with Andre,” to indirectly reflect certain thoughts that Alison might have, which is something that was included consistently in Fun Home. However, in Gradual Impact, Alison refers to God, as “a sign from above,” which I believe she did not do in Fun Home.

19 by Sappho, translated by Julia Dubnoff and 94 translated by Anne Carson

  • After reading both translations of the long fragment, I would say that I prefer the Anne Carson translation. This is because of mainly the structure of the poem and its more authentic style in terms of similarity to Sappho’s original work. For example, in Carson’s translation, she leaves spaces and small incomplete fragments, which allow the reader to see where the missing parts of the poem are and thus enabling them to imagine what could have been there in order to come up with their own interpretation. With the spaces included, we can acknowledge that there are in fact missing parts and so we cannot see Sappho’s complete thoughts. With Julia Dubnoff’s translation, she does include small fragments, but each of them round off to somewhat of a complete thought. Additionally, Dubnoff does not leave any spaces to indicate the missing parts, and therefore it would be hard to tell that this is in fact an incomplete poem. However, due to the ‘complete’ stanzas, as readers we are more likely to understand the meaning of the poem, whilst with Carson’s translation we are more likely to be more confused in terms of the meaning and purpose of the poem. Although this is the case with Carson’s translation, I find that it is more authentic and therefore echoes Sappho’s voice more accurately.
  • In Carson’s translation, the spaces contribute to the meaning more effectively than Dubnoff’s.
  • For example:

“and neither any[       ] nor any

holy place nor

was there from which we were absent

no grove[        ] no dance

] no sound


  • The main component in this poem is the idea of being “absent,” and spaces, absent of words, help to convey the idea of something missing. The repetition of “no” before things that make up something lively, such as dance and sound, further magnifies a sense of emptiness and quiet.
  • Equivalent in Dubnoff’s translation:

“And there was no dance,

no holy place

from which we were absent.”

  • With this version, Dubnoff’s combines the fragments to form a complete thought, yet without the presence of spaces, there is a lot missing from Sappho’s original work. Although this version does convey the same meaning as it is stated rather explicitly, the previous version uses its structure more effectively in order to communicate a much more powerful image.
  • I think that Sappho’s work combines both a celebration of life and a cry of pain. For example, in this long fragment, the difficulty and pain in leaving a loved one due to uncontrollable forces is expressed, yet majority of the poem expresses the celebration of a new life and individual happiness that they both hope to achieve. Through the line, “Sappho, I swear, against my will I leave you,” we can understand the bond between these two personas and the inner conflict one feels that forces them to leave, as one was “weeping,” and “left [her] with many tears.”
  • Although Sappho’s work was written in 600+ BC,  she was still able to achieve universality in terms of the cultures present to this day. I think that Sappho is able to do this by using dialogue in her poems, instead of just writing about feelings she actually shows how one might react to the pain of parting, or by seeing someone so beautiful, and thus she is able to convey more accurate emotions. In her poems, Sappho included universal feelings such as anger, pain, desire, and passion, which apply to present cultures. Yet, she implemented these emotions in different situations when she lived, and so some of the language is more unusual, but that is what is expected.

Comparison of both texts

  • The comparison of both texts is slightly difficult as although they both share similar meanings, the expression of the emotions are quite different. In Dubnoff’s translation, the description of the persona is similar to Bechdel’s description of Tamar.
  • Sappho:

“For by my side you put on

many wreaths of roses

and garlands of flowers

around your soft neck.”

  • Bechdel:

“I was uncomfortable with her beauty. Her flawless skin.”

  • The similarity is a bit of a stretch, however both authors describe the beauty of another person, perhaps someone they are both close to, and therefore express their admiration towards them and a sense of awe. With Sappho’s work, the context is more of her time, with the use of wreathes and garlands, however she is still able to convey the idea of beauty. Both authors illustrate the idea of delicacy, through their descriptions of skin, with Bechdel describing it as “flawless,” and Sappho describing it as “soft.” This suggests the pureness and subtle perfection of these other characters.
  • Both authors also indicate that they are perhaps not good enough for the other person. Bechdel more explicitly expresses this idea through her statement that she is simply “uncomfortable with [Tamar’s] beauty. However, Sappho observes the other person to have “precious and royal perfume,” which suggests the almost hierarchy the other has. Through the use of the word “royal,” Sappho vividly demonstrates that she almost worships this other person, and cares deeply for her. In Carson’s translation, instead of “royal perfume,” she uses “sweet oil,” which might be more accurate in terms of the context of Sappho’s time, however the idea that these items are luxurious and indulgent is still conveyed. In Bechdel’s work, the idea of being “flawless” or having “flawless” characteristics is still a reflection of Sappho’s idea of beauty, yet is of course a more modern way of expressing perfection and elegance.



Maths Discussion Thoughts

What is the role of intuition in mathematics? How about imagination?

I believe that although mathematical knowledge must be proven with rigorous proof, initial ideas are sparked by intuition and imagination.  A mathematician might choose to use certain proofs in order to prove their conjecture based on their own intuition, and then use logical steps to see if it would work.

How important is logic(al reasoning) within Mathematical knowledge?

I think that logical reasoning is required within mathematical knowledge because in order for a conjecture to be believed and be ‘true’ it must be proved with rigour and clear steps to show how one came to that conclusion.

How connected is Maths to the real world?

Although maths might be more involved in topics such as the natural sciences, I believe that it can be used as a measure for other values. Despite that, maths might not always be effective. For example, numerical values have started becoming more popular to measure one’s attractiveness. Many might say that beauty is subjective, however we must admit that there are some people or animals that we would consider “beautiful,” or “cute,” and therefore certain values could be set to determine who is more attractive compared to someone else.


James Wright Poem

Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm In Pine Island, Minnesota BY JAMES WRIGHT

I think that the last line of the poem extended our knowledge and interpretations, rather than bringing the poem together. The last line was surprising, although once I read it, I was able to notice other small details in the poem that supported the conclusion. For example, in the first line of the poem, “Over my head, I see the bronze butterfly,” I noticed that the pronoun used was “the,” instead of “a,” which suggests that that the poet was more used to the setting than we originally thought, and that his observations were not necessarily random and that the last line proved that he had in fact “wasted [his] life.”

Jesus Hopped the A-Train

I think that this play is a dark comedy drama, and I believe that this is because within each conversation between the several main characters, the topics of justice and faith are brought up often, yet the language is less sophisticated. However, I believe that we were laughing because of what the characters were saying, especially the inmates, but more importantly why they were reacting in such ways. I found that whilst reading this play I grew to like both Lucius and Angel despite the fact that they were both murderers. I think this is because the author initially introduces Lucius without mentioning why he is in custody, although later reveals why. The depiction of both characters is perhaps different to what I was expecting, considering their background, and is probably why I was more concentrated on their disagreements and petty threats rather than immediately disregarding them based on their crimes. Lastly, the more obvious reason would most likely be the vast use of vulgar language.

AMK Minds Progress Reflection 2

LO1 – Awareness

What previous experiences have I had with an activity like this?

What are my strengths and what would I like to improve?

Why have I struggled in some areas?

LO3 –  Initiative

What activities did we plan?

How did our plans as the activity progressed? Why?

What difficulties did we face in executing our plan? Why?

How did we overcome these challenges?



The Mathematical Method

Of the methods trying to prove the conjecture “the internal angles of a triangle sum to 180º ”, explain why only one provides ‘rigorous proof’.

Out of the three method uses to prove this conjecture, I think that two of them provided proof, whilst the other showed ‘rigorous proof’. The two that showed proof were the ones that took the edges of a triangle and either cut or folded them to create a semi circle, which represents 180º. These methods did not show rigorous proof because it did not demonstrate an unbroken chain of steps that led to this conjecture. Furthermore, there was a lot of human error involved within these methods which questioned the reliability of the proof. The third method that provided rigorous proof was the one that used three axioms to prove this conjecture. However, these axioms were not proved themselves but are just universally agreed truths that we came to believe by imagining different situations. Additionally, by adding these axioms together, there was a continuous chain of reasoning that proved this conjecture to be true, and something that we could not question.

Explain the difference between ‘proof’ and ‘rigorous proof’, using the SHIP -> DOCK example.

In the SHIP -> DOCK example, all the intermediate words contained at least one vowel, which could not be proven using experimental evidence. This is because no matter how many words we found that demonstrated this, there would always be the possibility of more words that could also. This example demonstrates rigorous proof as there are steps to show that all intermediate words do contain at least one vowel. Firstly, we have to accept and acknowledge that all “valid” English words contain a vowel. Secondly, the intermediate words between SHIP to DOCK must at some point have two vowels as only one letter at a time can change. In order for the previous statement to be false, the vowel in position three has to become a consonant and the consonant in position two has to become a vowel in one step.  However, this involves two letter changes which is impossible as only one letter can change at a time, thus all intermediate words must contain a vowel.

How does the term proof apply differently in maths and the natural sciences?

I think that proof in mathematics is much more rigour than in natural sciences, and this is because scientific knowledge is at first discovered and then tested, and referred to as “evidence.” Whilst, mathematical knowledge is something that can be seen and proven at any time and will always be correct, especially with the use of rigorous proofs where steps are clearly laid out. I believe that in natural sciences, we cannot always see things that we claim to be true, but we have different examples and evidence to back up scientific knowledge.

Where can maths be ‘found’ in nature?

  1. Honeycombs – Bees can easily create the hexagonal shapes found in honeycomb, whilst it would require a lot of effort for humans to recreate the shapes. Honeycomb demonstrates a repeated pattern that covers a plane, similar to mosaics or tiled floors. Mathematicians  have suggested that this shape is created in order to have to an efficient and large storage for honey with the use of minimal wax.  For example, circles would have spaces between each shape and therefore have less efficient storage of honey. However, some believe that the symmetrical shape of honeycombs is accidental and that bees would never been able to perform such an intricate task.
  2. Faces – Human faces have bilateral symmetry, that some believe is an aspect that determines physical attraction. Research has shown that mouths and noses are placed at “golden sections” of the space between the eyes and the chin. A spiral shape is formed by the comparable proportions from the side of the face. Statistics have shown that averages are close to the value of phi, and that it is believed that the closer the proportions are to phi, the more attractive one is perceived to be. Some say that it is possible that we as humans are designed to comply with the “golden ratio” as it promotes reproductive health.
  3. Starfish – Starfish have bilateral symmetry, however they can show radial symmetry through the process of metamorphosis, where the organism that be divided into halves. Starfish have at least five limbs, which can form ‘pentraradial symmetry’. However, this symmetry has been inherited and slightly modified through evolution from their previous ancestors.

Briefly explain why Galileo may have said: “Nature’s grand book, which stands continually open to our gaze, is written in mathematics.”

When I first saw read this statement I was initially unsure about what it meant and in fact I still am, but from what I understand about it I do agree. First of all, Galileo states that what we know about Nature, will always be “continually open to our gaze,” meaning that perhaps there is always more that can be discovered about nature and we can never truly know everything. The most significant and potentially controversial part is Galileo’s belief that “Nature’s grand book, is written in mathematics.” I personally believe that mathematics is more discovered than invented as although humans have invented units and numbers, they are just values that represent life. We use these values to explicitly show why or how something might work, but in order to explain different concepts mathematics is vital and had to be initially discovered in order for humans to explain what we know. I believe that this statement is true as mathematics is constantly demonstrated through the natural sciences. However, this concept is perhaps difficult to show as with Science there is always the question of whether there are examples that will falsify this pattern. Although there is still so much that we don’t know, I think that in nature, maths in the reason why we explain why different processes happen and why organisms grow to show different characteristics.



AMK Minds Progress Reflection

The local service that I am currently apart of is called AMK Minds. It is an organisation that works with mentally disabled people from ages 18 and above in order to not only support them but to also improve their long-term wellbeing.

I chose to be apart of this service as I have not worked with people with mental illnesses before and I felt that by taking part in this service, I would have the opportunity to challenge myself in regards to my interaction with others and how I might choose to go about doing that. I am aware of the challenges that many come in this service as I think that no matter who you work with, it is important to cater our actions based on their needs. However, although we may hope to make a long-term significant impact, small changes and improvements in their daily lives would be a much more sustainable and successful goal.

Throughout the course of my participation in this service, I hope to gain insightful knowledge about working with others and how I can critically think to generate activities that would be suit the client. Although our involvement in this service should be a rather selfless act, I do hope to gain some sense of fulfilment by the end, as knowing that I have made others feel slightly better even just for a day, does in fact make me feel somewhat contented.

The season has just begun and so we have actually not met with our service yet, as we are currently in the planning and preparation stage. However, we did meet with a couple of the organisation’s leaders in order to ask questions and learn about how we should approach the clients and any challenges that we could face. Our main aim is to get the clients engaged and active for the hour that they spend with us, and to ensure they are having fun and feel satisfied by the end of the session. In order to achieve this, we have planned several activities that we could run in order to keep them active but also to encourage interaction between both us, the service group, and them.