English Literature KS3 / GCSE: Simon Armitage on his poem 'The Clown Punk’

Simon Armitage reads his poem ‘The Clown Punk’ and analyses the themes, ideas and language it contains.

The film includes a visualisation of the encounter between the poet and an ageing punk that lies at the centre of the poem, along with archive footage of the punk era and a modern-day visit to a tattoo parlour.

Key words and phrases are picked out.

He considers the theme of the passage of time and how this type of encounter poem is a familiar trope in English literature, making reference to Shelley’s ‘Ozymandius’.

This clip is from the series Simon Armitage: Writing Poems.

Teacher Notes

Can be used to explore the use of tone in poetry.

For much of the poem the tone seems dismissive and derogatory of others, but students are asked to consider if this is the whole story. Is this angry tone only directed at the punk?

Which words or phrases betray the tone to us?

What is the over-reaching tone of the poem and why has Armitage chosen this?

How can the poem be considered an 'exploration of the passage of time'?

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching English Literature.

It will be relevant for teaching poetry analysis at KS3 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Level 3 in Scotland.

This clip could also be used for teaching general poetry analytics skills at KS4/GCSE/National 5.