Edwin Morgan: A Taste of Poetry

This resource is great for:
Introducing the poetry of Edwin Morgan and using this as inspiration for writing your own poems.

Summary:
Discussion points and creative writing exercises based on Edwin Morgan’s poem The Apple’s Song.


Introduction:
At the Book Festival’s upcoming ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld Festival, former Scots Makar Liz Lochhead will lead a Reading Workshop on the poetry of Edwin Morgan, Glasgow’s first Makar.

In advance of the event, take a look at Morgan’s poem The Apple’s Song and explore how it uses the senses to evoke a relationship.

The Apple’s Song by Edwin Morgan

Tap me with your finger,
rub me with your sleeve,
hold me, sniff me, peel me
curling round and round
till I burst out white and cold
from my tight red coat
and tingle in your palm

as if I’d melt and breathe
a living pomander
waiting for the minute
of joy when you lift me
to your mouth and crush me
and in taste and fragrance
I race through your head
in my dizzy dissolve.

I sit in the bowl
in my cool corner
and watch you as you pass
smoothing your apron.
Are you thirsty yet?
My eyes are shining.


Activity – Pondering the Poetry

Part one – Discussing the poem

With a partner, read the poem aloud a few times to get a feel for it. Don’t worry about understanding it all to begin with: just let the sounds wash over you. It can often help to close your eyes when you listen. What do you see in your mind’s eye?

Once you’ve done this, have a think about the following:

Do any words, lines or phrases stand out to you for any reason?

Are there any words that are new to you? If so, ask your partner if they know what they mean. If not, spend a little time looking up a word. (Not too long. The overall sense often matters more than individual words.)

Who is speaking – or should we say, singing – here? And to whom?

How would you describe the feeling of The Apple’s Song?

What brings about this feeling? Have a think about the poem’s:

  • Appeal to the Senses
  • Rhythm – are there any points where this changes?
  • Use of monosyllabic and polysyllabic words
  • Verb Tenses

Consider the repetitions of all those pronouns – ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘your’. Is this a poem about a relationship?

The poem contains many examples of imperative verbs. Who is in control here?

Look again at the ordering of the verses. Where is the poem at its most intense? What difference would it make if you moved the final verse to the beginning?

Part two – Creative Writing Prompts

Write a response to The Apple’s Song from the perspective of the poem’s ‘you’. What do you think their response might be?

Choose an everyday object, something that you use on a regular basis. Write a poem from its perspective. What might it have to say to you?

“The smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, ready to remind us… the immense edifice of memory.” – Marcel Proust

Smell and taste are such evocative senses. They have the power to trigger strong emotional memories in us. Working in small groups:

  • Bring in a selection of objects with a strong taste or smell.
  • Taking it in turns, blindfold the other group members, and have a smell or taste of each object in turn. Do they remind you of anything? Or transport you anywhere? Share these memories with the group.
  • Write a creative response to the memory triggered through your senses.

Part three – Second Bite of the Apple

Edwin Morgan also wrote a well-known poem called Strawberries. Compare this poem with The Apple’s Song. How do the relationships portrayed in each poem differ?


Further information:

For more information and to book tickets for Liz Lochhead on Edwin Morgan’s Poetry: Reading Workshop at ReimagiNation: Cumbernauld on Sunday 21 May, visit the Book Festival Booked! blog:
booked.edbookfest.co.uk/event/liz-lochhead-on-edwin-morgans-poetry-reading-workshop

If you haven’t already discovered Scottish Poetry Library’s Edwin Morgan Archive, do take a look: edwinmorgan.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
It contains a selection of Morgan’s poems, alongside resources and biographical information.

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