A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

A Martian Sends a Postcard Home

Caxtons are mechanical birds with many wings
and some are treasured for their markings–

they cause the eyes to melt
or the body to shriek without pain.

I have never seen one fly, but
sometimes they perch on the hand.

Mist is when the sky is tired of flight
and rests its soft machine on the ground:

then the world is dim and bookish
like engravings under tissue paper.

Rain is when the earth is television.
It has the properites of making colours darker.

Model T is a room with the lock inside —
a key is turned to free the world

for movement, so quick there is a film
to watch for anything missed.

But time is tied to the wrist
or kept in a box, ticking with impatience.

In homes, a haunted apparatus sleeps,
that snores when you pick it up.

If the ghost cries, they carry it
to their lips and soothe it to sleep

with sounds. And yet, they wake it up
deliberately, by tickling with a finger.

Only the young are allowed to suffer
openly. Adults go to a punishment room

with water but nothing to eat.
They lock the door and suffer the noises

alone. No one is exempt
and everyone’s pain has a different smell.

At night, when all the colours die,
they hide in pairs

and read about themselves —
in colour, with their eyelids shut

Craig Raine

Exam Tips

Exam Tips (taken from Irish Times Article- Click HERE for full article)

  • About 75 per cent of Junior Cert and 55 per cent of Leaving Cert English is completely unseen until you open the paper. That does not mean you can’t study for the exam. You are learning skills rather than rote-learning information.
  • Read, read, read. If you don’t read widely, you’ll never become a good writer.
  • Learn quotes from your texts. Record them onto your smartphone or iPod and listen on the way into school.
  • Don’t learn essays off by heart. If you’re writing a short story, have some examples of characterisation and setting ready to adapt to your title. Creative writing needs to be vivid and entertaining. Show, don’t tell. The reader should have specific sights, sounds and smells in their minds-eye as they read your writing.
  • Read your work out loud. You’ll hear mistakes sooner than you’ll see them.
  • Judging a character is complex: examine what they say, what they do, how they look, what they think and feel and other people’s opinions of them. Don’t take them at their word – characters often lie, to themselves and others.
  • Learn to spell the word character. There’s only one “h” and it’s at the beginning.
  • Structure your answers. Stream-of-consciousness style answers rarely achieve a good grade, particularly if you get stuck exploring one point in excessive detail.
  • Essays on studied texts must use a formal style. Points must be supported with relevant and accurate quotes.
  • Know your single text very well, inside out. Whether you’re using reference or quotation to support your answer, you need to know the text in detail.
  • In the comparative study, you should ask yourself “what’s this text all about?”. When you make a list with that heading for all three texts, you can more clearly see what they have in common. You then need to find key moments in each to support your comparisons. And you should be comparing them all the time.
  • You have about an hour per section in the exam. Most people will write between seven and 10 paragraphs. Time yourself and write three paragraphs in 20 minutes for a bit of bite-sized preparation if you’re pressed for time.
  • Don’t listen to the poetry tips. Prepare your favourite poets well and you will be rewarded. The more you have to say about a poet’s work the better, so have a view which you can back up by referencing the poet’s work

The Short Story- Daily Telegraph Article

Short and sweet

That most difficult form of creative writing, the short story, is back in fashion.

 The short story, said that sharp little observer Truman Capote, is “the most difficult and disciplining form of prose writing”. Like the sonnet as a verse form, it is easy to write, hard to write well. Succeed, and the novel is in your sights. Before Pickwick came Sketches by Boz, before A Portrait of the Artist came Dubliners. One of Joyce’s beautifully made short stories from that collection appears in our Review section today, together with details of a new Short Story Club competition.Writers of short stories dream of seeing them published. For two decades it has proved harder and harder to publish for reward: literary magazines went out of business, publishers wanted novels instead. Now, as the writer Louise Doughty, the mentor of the Short Story Club, points out, “magically, mysteriously, short fiction, that butterfly of a literary form, is back”. That is partly something for which to thank the internet, but the brief butterfly also flies again bound in soft wrappers.To write a short story well is good in itself. The directed exercise of one’s creative side undoubtedly contributes to the balanced development of the whole human person. The work involved makes the writer appreciate other people in a different way, too. It’s not publication alone that can provide a happy ending.

Solar Flare

Nasa has released spectacular high definition video of a solar flare breaking away from the surface of the Sun.

The coronal mass ejection, captured by Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a filament that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, erupting into space at nearly 1500 kilometres per second.

The eruption happened at 8.36pm (Irish time) on August 31st this year and was large enough to engulf the Earth many times over.

The associated coronal mass ejection passed by Earth on the night of Monday, September 3rd, connecting with Earth’s magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, causing aurora to appear.

The video is shot in 1080p high definition and shows the filament from several different angles allowing viewers to observe how the solar flare behaved.

Solar Flare