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The Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature: poetry

This is one of a series of pages on the Struggle for Identity in Modern Literature; use the links in the menu on the left to navigate to the other pages on general materials, drama and prose.

The AQA course, AS Level English Literature A, requires the study of one post-1990 text and one written between 1800 and 1945; such texts are indicated here.

AQA poetry texts for Unit 1
Wider reading in poetry
  • Simon Armitage: Dead Sea Poems (Faber, 1995) post 1990
  • W.H Auden: e.g 'The Quarry', 'Lay your sleeping head my love', 'Refugee Blues' (1930s) pre-1945
  • Gillian Clarke: Letter From a Far Country (1985)
  • Carol Ann Duffy: The Other Country (1990) post 1990
  • Allan Ginsberg: Howl (City Lights Pocket Poet Series, 1956)
  • Langston Hughes: Collected Poems (Vintage, 1930-1960) pre-1945
  • Jackie Kay: Life Mask (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) post 1990
  • Liz Lockhead: Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems (Polygon, 1984)
  • Audre Lorde: Any poetry some will be post 1990
  • Grace Nichols: The Fat Black Woman's Poems (Virago, 1984)
  • Adrienne Rich: The School Among the Ruins (Norton, 2004) post 1990
  • Lemn Sissay: Morning Breaks in the Elevator (Payback Press, 1999) post 1990
  • Gertrude Stein: Tender Buttons (Dover, 1914) pre-1945
  • Alice Walker: Revolutionary Petunias and other Poems (1970) post 1990
  • Benjamin Zephaniah: Too Black, Too Strong (Bloodaxe Books, 2001) post 1990
  • Edited by Lemn Sissay: The Fire People: A Collection of Contemporary Black British Poets (Payback Press, 1998) post 1990

If you are teaching or studying the AQA course it is essential to refer to the AQA specification to ensure that you are reading the right texts and meeting all the requirements!

Poetry in translation
  • Pablo Neruda: Residence on Earth (Chile/Spanish) (Souvenir Press, 1933) pre-1945
On poets and poetry
Useful websites
  • British Council Poetry Quartets online: over two hours of audio extracts from the British Council/Bloodaxe poetry recordings. There are some lively flash movies to accompany some of the poems
  • Poetry Archive: archive readings from poets of the past, classroom favourites such as Armitage and lesson plans too.
  • Poetry Book Society: devoted to encouraging the appreciation of poetry - with a book club and useful links to poets' sites.
  • Poetryclass: lively ideas for teaching modern poetry from the Poetry Society, with links, interviews with poets, etc.
  • from the Academy of American Poets: attractive site which features new poets each month and is a useful source of work by modern poets. There's a section 'for educators', with topics such as Great Poems to Teach.
  • Sheerpoetry: 'an innovative and constantly changing new UK poetry site'. Sections for teachers and students from primary to university level as well as the general poetry reader. The content has a special emphasis on Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Seamus Heaney and Simon Armitage but classic poets are not neglected. Modest subscription required.
Finding poetry texts online
See the usual sources of online texts listed on the literature links page, in particular: