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Imtiaz Dharker - Tissue (New AQA Poetry Anthology)

Discussion in 'English' started by robtingle, Mar 25, 2015.

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  1. Does anyone have anything for the poem 'Tissue' by Imtiaz Dharker. To be honest, I'm finding it difficult to even understand the meaning of the poem. If anyone could shed some light on it that;d be great.


    Paper that lets the light
    shine through, this
    is what could alter things.
    Paper thinned by age or touching,

    the kind you find in well-used books,
    the back of the Koran, where a hand
    has written in the names and histories,
    who was born to whom,

    the height and weight, who died where and how, on which sepia date,
    pages smoothed and stroked and turned
    transparent with attention.

    If buildings were paper, I might
    feel their drift, see how easily
    they fall away on a sigh, a shift
    in the direction of the wind.

  2. CaptGrimesRetd

    CaptGrimesRetd Occasional commenter

    It continues:

    Maps too. The sun shines through

    their borderlines, the marks

    that rivers make, roads,

    railtracks, mountainfolds,

    Fine slips from grocery shops

    that say how much was sold

    and what was paid by credit card

    might fly our lives like paper kites.

    An architect could use all this,

    place layer over layer, luminous

    script over numbers over line,

    and never wish to build again with brick

    or block, but let the daylight break

    through capitals and monoliths,

    through the shapes that pride can make,

    find a way to trace a grand design

    with living tissue, raise a structure

    never meant to last,

    of paper smoothed and stroked

    and thinned to be transparent,

    turned into your skin.
  3. gruoch

    gruoch Established commenter

    She can be very obtuse - not good in a poet. Anyone remember 'This room' in the old AQA anthology?
  4. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Argh - that whole page, with "This Room" and "Love after Love". Bad memories...
  5. i-mod

    i-mod New commenter

    Not surprised you find it difficult to understand. It is obscure ? and I don?t see that as a merit. It?s an example of evasive impressionistic thinking and writing, and not a good model for students. It?s also not a choice that sits well with other poems in the Anthology for comparison, or one that speaks immediately to avid readers of poetry, let alone teenagers. Probably best paired with War Photographer, but it?s a poem that is unlikely to feature as the printed one for candidates in the exam, unless the exam is an exercise in demoralising teachers and students.

    Try this:

    The poem is about the possible power of something as thin and fragile as paper. Imtiaz Dharker has written elsewhere about the way she values things which may seem to be trivial or easily lost or destroyed: ?I learn to love the thing that has to be erased, the thing I may not be allowed to keep, sand that runs away beneath my running feet.?

    The first few verses create a sense of the power of something fragile like paper. The first way in which she makes paper seem important is its use in Books, and religion. The second way that a paper product becomes important is when a family history is recorded on it ? births, lives and death.

    The second few verses create a sense of the apparent weakness of paper. Paper may be seen as unsuitable for building anything substantial in the real world. Maps and receipts are part of the geopolitics and economics of public life, recording human existence in fragile materials vulnerable to sun and wind.

    Weighing up the fragility and the substance, the writer sees a living power in something as delicate as skin. From thin paper, mighty forms can grow: it is the tissue which a thinker (writer?) can draw up plans like an architect to ?trace a grand design? and build ?a structure never meant to last?. (A bit like a poem?)

    That help?
    streetno9, cpoeo and louiseaa1 like this.
  6. piedwarbler

    piedwarbler New commenter

    Thanks i-mod, that's helpful. Anyone happen to know WHEN it was written? I've been scouring the net and I can't find a date.
  7. piedwarbler

    piedwarbler New commenter

    Ah, found it, for anyone else interested. It was published in the collection "A Terrorist at my Table" in 2006. I found this out by e mailing Bloodaxe (thanks, Bloodaxe!)
  8. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    My students read it as a commentary on how our lives are mapped by pieces of paper: receipts, maps, diaries etc with references to different points in our lives being linked to different pieces of paper. The fragile paper mirrors the fragility of our lives.
    When I was studying it in preparation for teaching, I broke it down into sections that seemed to belong together. I then thought about the different interpretations for 'paper' - different ways of tracing life through time, place, age, experience; you make marks on paper as you do in the world; history is passed down through what is written; education is to do with paper...and we went from there.
    I love that poem.
    pepper5 and blueskydreaming like this.
  9. DebbieMurphy46

    DebbieMurphy46 New commenter

    The comment by i-mod is really helpful-much better than the vague nonsense of "It's a metaphor for life" which appears on BBC Bitesize.
    streetno9 likes this.
  10. i-mod

    i-mod New commenter

    Thank you Debbie. Poems like this bring out the worst in waffle from some commentators - agree about Bitesize.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. Elektra

    Elektra New commenter

  12. Elektra

    Elektra New commenter

    Amusingly, at a Poetry Live! Day, the poet couldn't seem to explain her own poem. I have no idea why the exam boards are in love with her as a poet. 'The Right Word' nearly finished me off last year.
    And it's ludicrous to put this poem in with others like 'Ozymandias' and 'The Prelude' and while I'm on the subject (ranting) why are there so many poems in the cluster? If it's unseen, why not stick to 8 real poems of merit? Rant over!
    jarndyce likes this.
  13. CandysDog

    CandysDog Established commenter

    Because Ofqual decided that 15 poems equals one text.
  14. Mr_X

    Mr_X New commenter

    I think there's a religious angle too. In the same way that we build and create (and record) things using paper, so too does god, using the "paper" of skin to do so. I think the poet is religious, plus you have the reference to the Koran near the start. There's also the aspect of human buildings and constructs being fragile things, which is a nice link to Ozy or Storm on the Island.

    I wasn't a fan at first but when you get going through it there are some nice links.
  15. altruistica

    altruistica New commenter

    streetno9 likes this.
  16. altruistica

    altruistica New commenter

    I can't seem to edit the obvious cut and paste errors above....but you get the gist
  17. altruistica

    altruistica New commenter

  18. altruistica

    altruistica New commenter

    EDIT That should have been 'Larry Silverstein' not Larry Silberman (whoever he is....)
  19. altruistica

    altruistica New commenter

  20. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    I remember the first time you posted your ludicrous 'analysis' of the poem, but decided not to comment. But now you've bumped it...

    I pity your daughter's teacher if she's repeating your deluded conspiracy theories in her essays.
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