chapter  9
14 Pages

Different arts subjects

Some years ago I worked on a short-term project in partnership with a teacher in a pri-

mary school. We planned to do some work on poetry, specifically The Highwayman, a

text chosen by the teacher. I had not read the poem for some years and was a bit taken

aback by some of its content. At one point in the poem the landlord’s daughter is gagged

by the kings’ men and bound to the foot of her bed with a musket propped suggestively

under her breast. She manages to reach the trigger and shoot herself as a means of warn-

ing her lover, the highwayman, that a trap had been set for him. I mentioned my slight

misgivings to the class teacher who reassured me that ‘they’ didn’t bother about that sort

of thing but focused instead on the alliteration, onomatopoeia, metaphors and adjectives.

I was reminded of that incident when reflecting on what to include under the heading

‘different art forms’. Poetry is usually found within the ‘language as subject’ curriculum

but viewing it primarily as an art form would do much to prevent such narrow and

reductive approaches to texts. This choice of poem also illustrates the folly of assuming

that such categories as ‘poetry’ and ‘fiction’ are clear-cut; the poem has a strong narrative

content and has been published as a song. As with ‘art’ itself it is not possible to place

clear boundaries around the different forms and genres.