Revisting Duffy – even though we know that we should ‘Never go back’ (see what I did there…)

cropped-cropped-image1.jpegWhat’s the exam like?

1 hour

50 marks

AO1 15 – argument, accuracy, style and use of terminology

AO2 15 – detailed analysis of form, structure, language and how poetic techniques   shape meanings

AO4 20 – analysis of connections between poems – links – comparisons and contrasts

  • “Informed” – candidate’s own knowledge of texts
  • “Personal” – relates to level of candidate’s engagement with texts
  • “Creative” – includes how engaging and well-structured responses are
  • “Concepts” – reflects an overarching awareness of the framework of the subject
  • “Terminology” – here refers to the use of correct/suitable words.
  • “Coherent” – an ability to engage in clear and effective academic discourse which is well organised and adopts an academic style and register.


  • Support observations with brief quotation – learn to integrate key, single-word quotations into sentence structure
  • Plan the response
  • Reflect
  • Read the material thoroughly


  • Spend time on a descriptive introduction or statement of intent
  • Work through the material systematically line by line
  • Copy out large sections of material
  • Assert meaning without support
  • Impose your own agenda on the material – do allow it to speak for itself
  • Attempt to discuss similar work you have encountered in your wider reading or to analyse possible contexts for the material

How to write well:

  • Integrate connections and comparisons – be specific and detailed.
  • Select points across the poems rather than going through them line by line.
  • Support points with short, embedded quotations.
  • No need for biographical information.
  • Write in a formal style – avoid contractions and colloquial language, use a literary vocabulary, avoid use of first person ‘I’.
  • Proof read writing to ensure accuracy.


Write an introduction with a focused argument or main point about both poems.

Be tentative so you acknowledge there are many ways to interpret the poems, e.g. perhaps; this suggests or implies; it could be argued …

Make a clear distinction between speaker/persona and Duffy and ascribe authorial methods, e.g. Duffy presents …

Do not describe events in the poem but focus closely on poetic techniques.

Integrate quotations and points, e.g. In utilising onomatopoeia, ‘fizzy’, Duffy conveys to the reader the visceral excitement that comes with being young as we can almost hear the ripple of excitement in the dance hall.

Use key signpost comparative markers to his AO4, e.g. similarly, conversely etc.

Need an introduction and at least five or six detailed comparative paragraphs as the body of the essay then a short conclusion which reflects on question/connections.

Revision Task:

Re-read ‘Litany’. Analyse how Duffy presents childhood and the past in this poem and at least one other poem in the collection. (50 marks)

Re-read ‘Litany’. Analyse how Duffy presents childhood and the past …

(3 minutes planning)

in this poem and at least one other poem in the collection.

(3 minutes planning)

There are three ways in which you might make connections

  1. Your expression might show the examiner that you are aware of any similarities and differences between the poems as you use ‘signpost’ phrases such as ‘similarly’, ‘differently’, ‘unlike’ .
  2. Find similarities and differences in the ideas and attitudes presented in the poems.
  3. Find similarities and differences in the way the poems have been written.

The best responses, the ones that are most productive are able to explore detail as well as having an ability to compare and contrast the overview.

Making connections through:










Beginnings/endings/progression of ideas or argument

Structure – layout, rhyme, rhythm

Figurative language – metaphor, simile, symbolism, personification, anthropomorphism, pathetic fallacy


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