S: APEL Poet Study
BC: The End
FC: By: Jordan Haire | Margaret Atwood "This Is a Photograph of Me"
1: Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa, Ontario.
2: At age 6, Atwood began writing morality plays, poems, comic books, & had already started her first novel. As a teenager, she was highly inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.
4: Margaret Atwood was 16 years old when she made her commitment to pursue writing as a lifetime career.
5: Atwood attended Victoria College, University of Toronto, Radcliffe College, & Harvard.
6: Atwood has authored over 15 books of poetry & has received more than 55 awards for her publications. She has also worked on the television drama Snowbird. | Go | Governor General's Award - The Circle Game (1966) & The Handmaid's Tale (1985) Trillium Award - Morning in the Burned House (1995) Booker Prize, Dashell Hammett Prize, Los Angeles Times Book Award, & Arthur C. Clarke Award - The Blind Assassin (2000)
7: Margaret Atwood
9: Atwood's work has been translated into many languages & published in more than 25 countries. Other honors & awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Moslon Award, the Ida Nudel Humanitarian Award, & a Canada Short Story Award. In 1986 Ms. Magazine named her Woman of the Year, & she currently resides in Toronto serving as Writer-In-Residence & a lecturer at many colleges.
12: Margaret Atwood published The Circle Game, which includes "This Is a Photograph of Me," in 1978. | "This Is a Photograph of Me"
13: "It was taken some time ago. at first it seems to be a smeared print: blurred lines and grey flecks blended with the paper;" | Stanza 1 | The photograph was taken a while ago & it appears to be a “smeared print.” The imagery hints that the photo reveals something much deeper.
14: "then, as you scan it, you see in the left-hand corner a thing that is like a branch: part of a tree (balsam or spruce) emerging, and to the right, halfway up what ought to be a gentle slope, a small house frame." | Stanza 2 | As the speaker describes the worn photo she points out a tree & a small house.
15: There is a lake & some hills in the background. | Stanza 3 | "In the background there is a lake, and beyond that, some low hills."
16: Stanza 4 | "(The photograph was taken the day after I drowned." | The photo as taken the day following my death.
17: Stanza 5 | "I am in the lake, in the center of the picture, just under the surface." | I drowned in that lake, & my corpse still remains there.
18: Stanza 6 | "It is difficult to say where precisely, or to say how large or small I am: the effect of water on light is a distortion." | It is hard to point out exactly where my corpse is because water distorts light.
19: "You had me suicidal, suicidal when you say it's over." - Sean Kingston | Stanza 7 | "But if you look long enough, eventually you will be able to see me.)" | But, if you look extremely closely & analyze the photo you might be able to actually spot my corpse.
20: One Sentence Summary: On the surface this is a beautiful scene of nature, but if you take the time to dig deeper, you can see the ugly truth that my drowned body is in the lake.
21: Theme | It takes much time & effort to see beyond (or beneath) the surface of most things. No matter how perfect or simple something appears, there is always something more sinister invading. Furthermore, in the large picture of life, one may feel unnoticed or unimportant; however, death will not necessarily make him/her more noticeable.
22: Speaker | Tone | The speaker is the individual who has drowned in the lake or someone contemplating suicide. | There is a distinct tone shift after the 3rd stanza. The 1st section conveys a serene, peaceful tone, but once the speaker begins to speak of her drowning, the tone transforms into one of melancholy & detachment.
23: Form | The poem is written in free verse. This form of poetry has no set rules or restrictions & usually tells a story. | The lack of restraints allows Atwood to continue her thoughts through multiple lines & even stanzas. It feels as it the speaker is causally telling this story that would otherwise be horrific.
24: Stylistic Elements | Simile: "A thing is like a branch." | This evident comparison influences the audience to form other comparisons such as the one between reality & illusions. Life can produce vague images, but one must look within the ambiguity to find their true meaning. | Symbol: Photograph | The photograph represents the misleading representation of reality. Life may not be as simple as it appears, but after close examination, one may be able to point out the tiny specs that go unnoticed.
25: Imagery: "In the background there is a lake, / and beyond that, some low hills." | The vivid descriptions of the scenery account for the serene tone of the 1st half of the poem. The beauty of nature creates a peaceful atmosphere that soon is spoiled with an ugly truth. | Allusion: Reference to Christianity, more specifically baptism | The idea of being drowned in the water alludes to the process of one being baptized. For, following baptism one is doused with the ideas of Christianity. This allusion offers the religious perspective of Atwood's poem: the speaker's spirit has been reborn.
26: Understatement: "I am in the lake" | Rather than stating that a dead, rotten body floats on the lake's surface, the speaker simply states that she is "in the lake." This substitution accounts for the casual flow of the poem that would otherwise be horrific. Her euphemistic language creates a more melancholic tone & produces a more memorable piece of literature.
27: Connection to Brave New World | Neither the speaker of "This Is a Photograph of Me" nor John seem to fit into their societies. Although John didn't go unnoticed, he resorted to suicide in order to escape reality. In "This Is a Photograph of Me," Atwood is trying to say that perhaps the individual committed suicide because he/she felt unimportant, and was also trying to escape reality. In both pieces of literature, it's concluded that death doesn't make individuals more noticeable; their lives merely fade away into specs of dust that can only be discovered through close examination of the past.
28: Bibliography | Atwood, Margaret. "This Is a Photograph of Me." The Circle One. n.p., 1978. n.pag. Print. Margaret Atwood. Curtis Brown LTD, 8 Jan. 2010. Web. 15 March 2012. Margaret Atwood Biography. Encyclopedia of World Biography. Advameg Inc., 2012. Web. 15 March 2012.
29: "Never pray for justice because you might get some." - Margaret Atwood