John Agard's Poetry
Support for studying English GCSE and A Level
John Agard was born on 21 June 1949 in British Guiana (now Guyana). He is an Afro-Guyanese poet, playwright and children's writer. Agard now lives in Britain (south-east England).
Agard started writing poetry when he was in sixth form. He worked for the Guyana Sunday Chronicle newspaper as sub-editor and feature writer. He moved to England in 1977 with Grace Nichols (his partner). He became a touring lecturer for the Commonwealth Institute, travelling to schools throughout the UK to promote a better understanding of Caribbean culture. Agard has also worked for the BBC in London.
Agard’s poetry has appeared in AQA English GCSE anthologies since 2002. Many students have studied his work for GCSE English Literature.
John Agard - 'Checking Out Me History' - Annotation
Annotation prompts for John Agard’s ‘Checking Out Me History’.
‘Checking Out Me History’ is about how we are educated and how it can be biased. History is the study of the past – particularly how it relates to humans. Specifically it refers to memory, discovery, collection, organisation, presentation, and interpretation of information about these events. John Agard (born 21.06.1949) is an Afro-Guyanese playwright, poet and children’s writer. Emigrated to England, from Guyana, in 1977 with partner, Grace Nichols. Poem published 2007.
This poem has an autobiographical feel. Is it from Agard’s perspective? It raises questions about how we are educated about past events and how history is obscured by race / gender. Also, there are wider implications about how dangerous it can be to stifle one’s education and just accepting things to be true. Why does the persona quickly skip over British history, but explore other black figures in more depth? What is the poem’s tone?
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further analysis and interpretation.
The annotation prompts are a supportive tool, intended to encourage further poetry analysis and interpretation.