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I am going to study two poems based on conflict. The first poem is “Belfast Confetti” by Ciarï¿½n Carson and the second poem is “Slough” written by John Betjeman. ‘Belfast Confetti’ From what I understand, Carson comes from an Irish background and possibly used to be a local reporter. His attitude to conflict is that he feels war and conflict is confusing, so by associating with something he understands he can relate to, for example: ‘journalism’, he uses punctuation to explain the confusion in the riot.
Belfast Confetti is a poem, which is from when Carson was a journalist in Belfast. It is a bleak picture of modern society and it’s about when he became stuck in the middle of a riot – It describes how Carson runs down alleys to escape but is always trapped. He compares the riot, an unknown experience, to journalism a familiar experience. This is done by metaphorically describing the explosions, gunfire, and thrown missiles, linking them to punctuation and he describes it and his feelings to the reader. Carson also experiences an explosion while in the riot and is unfortunately deeply affected by the explosion-he loses his sense of identity because of what happens and he feels confused and disorientated.
The poet doesn’t actually mention whether he thinks the bombing is right or wrong, which is refreshing in a time when everyone has an opinion about the freedom of Ireland from England. However, the title is confusing, making the reader think that this is going to be about celebrations, but it in fact, turns out to be about a bomb. The first stanza describes the riot as Carson remembers the events, and the sheer violence comes tumbling out. As soon as the poem begins, the reader is hit in an urgent, dynamic fashion. ”Suddenly, as the riot started…”. This creates a sense of panic and causes the reader to explore the possibilities about why the riot squad has been involved in action. It also sets the tone for the rest of the poem.
In the second line, we see an exhaustive rush of words, which is describing about a car exploding. The poet finds it impossible to shape the sentence together. This may possibly be because he is distressed on recalling the event. ”Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys.” We see some use of onomatopoeia in the poem between ‘fire’ and ‘stuttering’. ”This hyphenated line, a burst of rapid fire…I was trying to complete a sentence in my head, but it kept stuttering.” The letters ‘t’ and ‘f’ are onomatopoeic. Here, he (the poet) shows confusion and difficulty in expressing himself.
The use of punctuation words means that there is a running theme through out the poem. “raining exclamation marks…an asterisk on the map…hyphenated line…punctuated…with stops and colons…a fusillade of question marks”. A meaning that could be taken from this is that sentences are one of a few things that differ us from animals. The fact that he was “trying to complete a sentence in his head” speaks volumes about his state of mind at the time. Also, the actual use of punctuation in the poem slows the poem down so that the reader can reflect on what has happened but the full stops also represent gunfire and a dead end to for-fill his achievement -unable to escape anywhere.
”Every move is punctuated. Crimea Street. Dead end again” In the second stanza, in the second last line, the poet inserts an empty line. He has done this to emphasise his disorientation and confusion from the bomb/explosion. It is also rather odd that the poet has used question marks in the poem, as a good poem shouldn’t need to have unanswered questions at the end. These specific question marks are used for effect and also mean that he doesn’t have to formulate an opinion about what’s happening, an opinion that could upset those around him. They also allow the reader to make up their own opinion.
”My name? Where am I coming from? Where am I going?” By saying “Saracen, Kremlin-2 mesh. Makrolon face-shields. Walkie-talkies”, he gives the reader an inhuman picture of the army by depicting it as a collection of military equipment, intimidating in its coldness. The actual sound of the line too with the predominant consonant “k” and heavily fragmented lines contribute to this effect. Also, I think that when Carson says “Balaclava, Raglan, Inkerman, Odessa Street- why can’t I escape?” he is unsure of an area that he knows because of everything that is happening. This maybe because the memories of the incident haunt the writer as he struggles to explain the events. He is also, maybe unintentionally, dropping names as freely as confetti.