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Peter Skrzynecki - Immigrant Chronicle

This material was prepared by Eve Mayes, Condell Park High School.

Resources on the internet
Key vocabulary to use in responses on Immigrant Chronicle
Synthesis of Skrzynecki poems and belonging prescription statements
Some suggestions for poems that suit rubric statements
Example of extended response paragraphs: "Feliks Skrzynecki" and "Postcard"
Sample assessment task - Skrzynecki speech and related text portfolio

Resources on the internet

The English Teachers' Association has resources developed as part of a Quality Teaching Project (external website)[note - a unit of work on Skrzynecki is also available for purchase from ETA (external website).

Peter Skrzynecki's website (external website) provides some helpful background information about his life and the poems.

The DET Book Rap site (external website) includes a link to an interview with Peter Skrzynecki and links to questions and analyses of the prescribed poems.

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Key vocabulary to use in responses on Immigrant Chronicle

Look at the list of words related to belonging and Peter Skrzynecki's poetry.

The "Red light" words are important to know to write well on Peter Skrzynecki and belonging. "Amber light" words are reasonably important. "Green light" words are good to know to enhance your response.

Look up and learn any words that you are unfamiliar with.

RED LIGHT - You HAVE to know these words and what they mean

Words from the Syllabus rubric:

Ambiguous
Acceptance
Assumptions
Barriers
Challenge
Connections
Constructed
Contexts
Enrich
Identity
Perceptions
Perspectives
Potential
Relationships
Representations
Understanding
Vary
Words related to Skrzynecki's poems:

Alienation
Ancestors
Anxiety
Assimilation/ assimilate
Discontent/ discontentment
Dislocation
Heritage
Integration/ integrate
Isolated
Naturalisation
Reminisce
Solitary

AMBER LIGHT - You SHOULD know these words and what they mean

Bureaucracy
Confront
Desperation
Detachment/ detached
Devoted
Domesti
Dismissive
Harmonious
Intimidated
Labourer
Nostalgia
Ominous
Poignant
Prejudice
Resilience
Solidarity
Stoicism/ stoic
Tenderness

GREEN LIGHT -It's GOOD for you to know these words

Ambivalence
Bleak
Compel
Grapple
Indifference
Inevitable
Lingering
Melancholy
Ominous
Superficial
Turmoil
Unflattering
Unnerved
Vindicate

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Synthesis of Skrzynecki poems and belonging prescription statements

Decide which poems you might discuss in an extended response. The poems that you choose may vary, depending on what the question asks. Extended response questions often draw on the prescriptions rubric statements.

Consider which poems you would choose to discuss for each of the prescription statements, using the table below.

Some suggestions for poems that suit rubric statements<< Link to suggested poems table below>>

Rubric statement Which 2 or 3 poems would you choose to write about? Write a summary of how each poem explores the rubric statement.
PERCEPTIONS of belonging/ not belonging vary.  
Perceptions of belonging are shaped within personal, cultural, historical and social CONTEXTS .  
A sense of belonging can come from the CONNECTIONS made with people, places, groups, communities and the larger world.  
Belonging is related to RELATIONSHIPS,  
ACCEPTANCE,  
IDENTITY,  
AND UNDERSTANDING.  
The INDIVIDUAL has the potential (ability) to ENRICH or CHALLENGE a group.  
ATTITUDES to belonging are modified (change) over time.  
There may be CHOICES NOT to belong.  
There may be BARRIERS preventing belonging.  
The RESPONDER can feel a sense of belonging to, or exclusion from, the TEXT and the world it represents.  
Studying belonging can BROADEN/ DEEPEN the RESPONDER'S understanding of themselves/ the world.  
PERSPECTIVES can be given voice in texts or absent from texts.  
The concept of belonging is conveyed through the REPRESENTATIONS of people, relationships, ideas, places, events and societies. There are ASSUMPTIONS that shape those representations.  
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Some suggestions for poems that suit the rubric statements

Rubric statement Which 2 or 3 poems would you choose to write about? Write a summary of how each poem explores the rubric statement.
PERCEPTIONS of belonging/ not belonging vary. Feliks Skrzynecki - Feliks and Peter have different perceptions of their belonging in Australia and the necessity of belonging in Australia.

St Patrick's College - Peter and his mother have different perceptions of the impact of his belonging at St Patrick's College.

Postcard - Peter initially has a different response to the postcard to the response that he imagines his parents will have. His perception of his belonging to Poland is different to his parents' perceptions.
Perceptions of belonging are shaped within personal, cultural, historical and social CONTEXTS . Feliks Skrzynecki - His father's sense of belonging with his friends and his garden come from his cultural (Polish), personal and historical context (forced labour). Peter's contrasting sense of alienation comes from his cultural context (son of migrants who has never been to Poland at this stage), personal context (experience of education).

In the folk museum - Peter's sense of alienation in the folk museum comes from his completely different cultural, historical and social context. He struggles to relate to the rural, colonial Australian experience.
A sense of belonging can come from the CONNECTIONS made with people, places, groups, communities and the larger world. Feliks Skrzynecki - Peter's father's strong sense of belonging comes from his connections with his friends (people), garden (place) and his cultural heritage.

10 Mary St - This poem explores Peter's strong connection to place and the discomfort that comes when the place is threatened ("gazetted for industry")

Postcard - Peter initially feels a lack of connection to the postcard, distancing himself from it. However, it is ambiguous at the end of the poem whether he will strive to form a connection with this place by visiting Warsaw.
Belonging is related to RELATIONSHIPS, Feliks Skrzynecki - Peter's father's relationships with his friends and garden give him a sense of belonging. Peter explores his relationship with his father in this poem.

10 Mary St - The family's sense of belonging in this home comes from the strong relationships forged within it (family relationships and friendships).

Ancestors - Peter grapples in this poem with his relationship to his "bearded, faceless" ancestors. By the end, he sees the significance of these people: "The wind tastes of blood."
ACCEPTANCE, 10 Mary St - Peter has a strong sense of acceptance in this home, but this is threatened.

St Patrick's College - Peter does not feel completely comfortable in this setting - does not feel that he can "let [his] light shine."
IDENTITY, Feliks Skrzynecki -Peter feels the disparity between his father's strong sense of cultural identity and his confusion about his own identity.

St Patrick's College -In this setting, Peter was not able to express his identity: "let my light shine."

Postcard - In this poem, Peter grapples with his identity in relation to the postcard from Warsaw: "What's my choice to be?"
AND UNDERSTANDING. Feliks Skrzynecki -This poem is an attempt to come to an understanding of his father and to come to terms with his own shifting identity.

Postcard -Peter struggles to understand Warsaw and its place in his life in this poem.

Ancestors -Peter tries to understand the significance of his ancestors for his life.
The INDIVIDUAL has the potential (ability) to ENRICH or CHALLENGE a group. Feliks Skrzynecki - Feliks both enriches and challenges Peter's notions of his own identity and stability.

In the folk museum -Peter seems to neither enrich nor challenge the elderly "caretaker" at the museum.
ATTITUDES to belonging are modified (change) over time. Feliks Skrzynecki - Feliks does not change his fixed sense of belonging, while Peter's attitude modifies over time, pitching his tents "further and further south of Hadrian's wall."

Postcard -Initially, Peter is stubborn, not wanting to change his dismissive attitude towards the Warsaw. Yet, by the end of the poem, there is some evidence of a shift in attitude ("'We will meet/ Before you die.'").
There may be CHOICES NOT to belong. St Patrick's College - There is some evidence of Peter distancing himself from his school through distraction: "fervently counted/ the seventy-eight pages".

Postcard -Peter chooses not to belong to the postcard at first ("I never knew you") but this choice is challenged at the end of the poem ("'We will meet before you die'").
There may be BARRIERS preventing belonging. Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 - The immigrants sense the barriers of the negative perceptions of others ("Watching pigeons/ That watched them").

In the folk museum - Peter's distance from the cultural heritage and rural experiences of the artefacts displayed in the folk museum is a barrier preventing him from authentically engaging with it ("To remind me of a past/ Which isn't mine").
The RESPONDER can feel a sense of belonging to, or exclusion from, the TEXT and the world it represents. Feliks Skrzynecki - Responders with parents can feel a sense of belonging to this text in its celebration of the hard work of a parent.

Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 - Responders who have moved to a foreign country can feel a sense of belonging to the experiences of the migrants in this text.

In the folk museum - Students from a language background other than English can relate to Peter's sense of cultural alienation in this text.
Studying belonging can BROADEN/ DEEPEN the RESPONDER'S understanding of themselves/ the world. Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 - This poem broadens the responder's understanding of the experiences of migrants, leading to empathy.

Feliks Skrzynecki - This poem may lead to a broadening of responders' reflections on their own personal relationships with their parents in the shaping of their identity.
PERSPECTIVES can be given voice in texts or absent from texts. In the folk museum - This poem voices the experiences of the alienated second-generation migrant in a colonial Australia.

Immigrants at Central Station, 1951 -This poem voices the experiences of migrants in Australia rather than focusing on the way they were perceived by established 'Australians.'
The concept of belonging is conveyed through the REPRESENTATIONS of people, relationships, ideas, places, events and societies. There are ASSUMPTIONS that shape those representations. Feliks Skrzynecki -Feliks is represented in a favourable light. The assumption is that his experiences have shaped him to be a stoic, honorable man.

In the folk museum -The assumption in this representation of the second-generation migrant is that he desires to assimilate but feels uncertain about his place: "'Would you please sign the Visitors' Book?'"

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Example of extended response paragraphs: "Feliks Skrzynecki" and "Postcard"

Below is a plan for an extended response and extended response paragraphs discussing "Feliks Skrzynecki" and "Postcard".

Complete the activities to understand the features of a strong extended response:

How do TWO Skrzynecki poems explore the concept of belonging?

Peter Skrzynecki's poems "Feliks Skrzynecki" and "Postcard" both explore complex idea about belonging. Both poems suggest that belonging comes from a connection to place and people, people can choose to belong and that belonging can be modified over time. Feliks in Peter Skzynecki's poem "Feliks Skzynecki" feels a close connection to places and people. He is described at the beginning of the poem as loving "his garden like an only child", sweeping "its paths/ Ten times around the world." The simile and hyperbole evoke a sense of his dedication to his garden and his paternal feelings towards it, connecting to this place like a father connects to an only child. His sense of belonging also comes from his close connection to his Polish friends who "reminisced/ About farms where paddocks flowered/ […] Horses they bred […]." The cumulation of positive verbs conveys a sense of their nostalgia and shared pride in their cultural heritage; a heritage that connects them together and fosters a sense of belonging.

Contrastingly, in "Postcard", Peter Skrzynecki does not feel the same sense of connection to his homeland that his father feels, but rather feels alienated and disengaged. The postcard of Warsaw "sent by a friend" "Haunts" him "since its arrival." The eerie connotations of "haunts" and its position on a line by itself portray the persona's unease and uncertain connection to this place. This contrasts to his friend's perception that his parents will react positively to this postcard, feeling a sense of connection to it: "He requests I show it/ To my parents." The separation of "I" and his parents on a separate line suggests their different perceptions to the postcard. This alienation from this place comes from his lack of direct experience of it, contrasting with Feliks's time spent in his garden and with his friends.

The son in "Feliks Skrzynecki" chooses not to belong with his father's Polish friends. The negative connotations of "violently" create a sense of his alienation from them. The high modality when he says he "never got used to" the friends' "formal address[ing]" of his father as "Feliks Skrzynecki" further suggests his disconnection and choice not to belong with his father's friends. Instead, he pursues learning, "stumbling over tenses in Caesar's Gallic War", forgetting his "first Polish word." The process of education leads him to drift from his heritage, but this process seems to be more of a slow movement away rather than a conscious decision not to belong.

In "Postcard," Peter Skrzynecki makes an effort to choose not to belong to the world of the postcard, in contrast to the slow drift of the son in "Feliks Skrzynecki." He speaks to the postcard in an apostrophe, asserting "I never knew you", and later repeats, "I never knew you/ Let me be." The repetition of this phrase and the imperative ("Let") convey a passionate rejection of the image of the town. This suggests a conscious decision not to belong. He contrasts his negative response to the postcard with imagined "praise" from his father and mother. Yet, the stanza finishes with his ambiguous rhetorical question, "What my choice/ To be?" Despite seeming to have made a decision not to belong earlier in the poem, he seems perplexed about his reaction to the postcard, unsure whether the "gift of despair" is enough for the postcard. Thus, in "Postcard", Peter Skrzynecki is uncertain about the consequences of his dismissal of the postcard and is not sure whether he actually wants to make a choice not to belong.

In "Feliks Skrzynecki," there is a more ambiguous modification of the son's attitude towards belonging over time. The metaphor of him pegging his "tents/ Further and further south of Hadrian's Wall" is highly ambiguous. Peter Skrzynecki's education has resulted in him moving away from his European heritage in a way that could appear to be positive. Yet, he moves away through studying Latin, a dead language that he "stumbl[es] over" rather than masters. Indeed, he seems to be aware of the negative impact of his movement away, acknowledging that his father is "Happy as I have never been." Placing the adjective "Happy" at the beginning of the line foregrounds his uncertainty about his process of movement away from his heritage. He perceives that his attitudes to belonging to his Polish heritage have been negative, but seems to have a modified awareness that it is not necessarily a positive thing to move away from one's cultural homeland.

Similarly, Peter Skrzynecki in "Postcard" seems to modify his attitude towards belonging at the end of the poem, realising that he will need to deal with the impact of his cultural heritage on his identity in the future. After rejecting Warsaw and describing it in negative terms, the last stanza culminates with a strange, haunting image of a "lone tree" that "whispers, 'We will meet/ Before you die.'" The personification of the tree suggests his need to confront his heritage, represented by the image in the postcard. His attitude is modified from dismissing the postcard to seeing the need for it to haunt him, to make him address his relationship to his heritage. This is similar to Peter's acknowledgement of his need to address his relationship to his father and his heritage in "Feliks Skrzynecki". Peter Skrzyecki's two poems, from a second generation migrant perspective, evidence an ambiguous stance towards belonging that comes from being positioned between two cultures.

Analyse the extended response paragraphs:

  • Label the three big ideas about belonging discussed
  • Highlight examples of synthesis (comparison) of the two poems.
  • Circle techniques discussed.
  • Underline examples of integration of quotations (making the quote part of the sentence).
  • Write a reflection analysing what you can do to make your extended response paragraph writing more successful. What have you learned from deconstructing these etended response paragraphs?

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Sample assessment task
Skrzynecki speech and related text portfolio
Assessment notification: Speaking and Writing

Weighting: 20%

Language Modes Examined: Speaking (15%), Writing (5%)

Outcomes to be assessed:

1. A student demonstrates understanding of how relationships between composer, responder, text and context shape meaning.

3. A student describes and explains different relationships among texts.

4. A student uses language relevant to the study of English.

5. A student demonstrates understanding of how audience and purpose affect the language and structure of texts.

6. A student interprets texts using key language patterns and structural features.

9. A student engages with the details of the text in order to develop a considered and informed personal response.

11.A student analyses and synthesises information and ideas into sustained and logical argument for a range of purposes and audiences.

13.A student reflects on own processes of responding and composing.

Context:

Students have explored the concept of Belonging and have investigated the poetry of Peter Skrzynecki and a range of related texts in class. They have previously jointly constructed a related text analysis before completing analysis independently.

Key Concept/ Main Idea:

Composers explore the concept of Belonging through a range of techniques.

TASK:

There are TWO parts to this assessment task.

Part 1: Portfolio:

You are to find and analyse THREE related texts. These related texts must include:

  1. ONE print text (novel, newspaper/ magazine article, poem, song lyrics);
  2. ONE visual text (cartoon, film, television show, advertisement, picture book)
  3. ONE online text (website)

For EACH text, you are to fill in the scaffold attached. Include a copy of each text (photocopy, print out).

Part 2: Speech

You are to write a speechto present at a conference titled "Perceptions of Belonging."

Your speech should discuss HOW Peter Skrzynecki and another composer explore the following statement:

"To feel a sense of belonging, you need to accept yourself and be accepted by others."

Refer to TWO Skrzynecki poems and ONE of the related texts from your portfolio.

Your speech should be between 5-6 minutes long.

You must hand in a draft or copy of your speech on the date that the assessment task is due.

NOTE:

If you are absent on the date of the assessment task you are required to provide a medical certificate to the Head Teacher of English on the morning of your return to school. Failure to comply with this Board of Studies regulation will result in zero marks.

Marking criteria

Portfolio (Written):

  • Demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of all three related texts and their exploration of the concept of belonging
  • Analyses texts' techniques in a sophisticated way
  • Synthesises texts in a sophisticated way
  • Fully meets the demands of the questions
5
  • Demonstrates a well-developed understanding of all three related texts and their exploration of the concept of belonging
  • Analyses texts' techniques in a well-developed way
  • Synthesises texts in a well-developed way
  • Meets the demands of the questions
4
  • Demonstrates a sound understanding of all three related texts and their exploration of the concept of belonging
  • Analyses texts' techniques in a sound way
  • Synthesises texts in a sound way
  • Meets the demands of the majority of the questions
3
  • Demonstrates a limited understanding of all three related texts and their exploration of the concept of belonging (may not answer questions for all three texts)
  • Analyses texts' techniques in a limited way
  • Synthesises texts in a limited way
  • Meets the demands of some of the questions
2
  • Demonstrates minimal understanding of all three related texts and their exploration of the concept of belonging (may not answer questions for all three texts)
  • Analyses texts' techniques in a minimal way
  • Synthesises texts in a minimal way
  • Meets the demands of few of the questions
1
  • Non-attempt
0

Speech:

  • Demonstrates a highly developed understanding of the concept of belonging and delivers a highly effective speech that fully meets the demands of the question and the purpose/audience/context of the speech
  • Speaks highly effectively, using prescribed and related texts in a discerning way
  • Gives a well-integrated response using language appropriate to purpose, audience and context
  • Uses verbal and non-verbal features of speech in a sophisticated manner to engage the audience
  • Stays within time frame (or exceeds by less than 1 minute)
14-15
  • Demonstrates a well-developed understanding of the concept of belonging and delivers an effective speech that meets the demands of the question and the purpose/audience/context of the speech
  • Speaks effectively, using appropriate texts in a thoughtful way
  • Gives a cohesive response using language appropriate to purpose, audience and context
  • Uses verbal and non-verbal features of speech in a well-controlled manner to engage the audience
  • Stays within time frame (or exceeds)
11-13
  • Demonstrates an understanding of the concept of belonging and delivers a satisfactory speech that substantially meets the demands of the question and the purpose/audience/context of the speech
  • Presents ideas using appropriate texts in a sound way
  • Gives a response using language generally appropriate to purpose, audience and context
  • Uses verbal and non-verbal features of speech in a satisfactory manner to attempt to engage the audience
  • Stays within time frame (or is under or over time frame by 1-2 minutes)
8-10
  • Demonstrates understanding of aspects of the concept of belonging and delivers a response that is limited in meeting the demands of the question and the purpose/audience/context of the speech
  • Attempts to present ideas in a limited way
  • Attempts to give a response with some appropriateness to purpose, audience and context
  • Uses verbal and non-verbal features of speech in a limited manner
  • Stays within time frame (or is under or over time frame by 1-4 minutes)
4-7
  • Demonstrates an elementary understanding of the concept of belonging
  • Attempts to describe what composers say about belonging
  • Refers to text(s) in an elementary way
  • Attempts to give a response
  • Uses verbal and non-verbal features in a very weak way
  • Is under time frame (speech is less than 2 minutes long)
1-3
  • Non-attempt
0

Total mark = _______/ 20

Comments: ________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________

Part 1: Portfolio
Related Text Scaffold (Fill in one for EACH text)

  1. Find out basic information about the text.
    1. Name of text: _____________________________________________________
    2. Composer:________________________________________________________
    3. Source (Where you got the text from. Include date of publication, or date of accessing website):
      _________________________________________________________________
    4. Type of text ______________________________________________________

  2. Summarise the text.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  3. Consider your reaction to the text.
    How does the text affect you?  What feelings does it leave you with?
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  4. Link the text to the prescribed Skrzynecki poems.
    Does this text have anything in common with the Skrzynecki poems? Do they explore the same issues?
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________
    ______________________________________________________________________

  5. Think about ideas about belonging in this text.
    1. What are the characters' perceptions of their belonging?
      _________________________________________________________________
      _________________________________________________________________

    2. What are the characters' experiences and notions of:
      1. identity?_____________________________________________________
      2. relationships?_________________________________________________
      3. acceptance? _________________________________________________
      4. understanding?________________________________________________

    3. Are there characters who enrich or challenge the group? Explain how they do this.
      _________________________________________________________________
      _________________________________________________________________

    4. Are attitudes to belonging modified over time?
      _________________________________________________________________
      _________________________________________________________________

    5. Do any characters make choices not to belong?
      _________________________________________________________________
      _________________________________________________________________

    6. Are there any barriers preventing belonging?
      _________________________________________________________________
      _________________________________________________________________

  6. Identify techniques (AT LEAST 3):
Context (what's happening) Quotation/ What you see Technique Effect What it shows about belonging



       



       



       

Part 2: Speech scaffold

Introduction:

Engaging opening: Description, rhetorical question…

Link to question/ topic

Summary of TWO poems and their link to the question

Summary of related text and its link to the question

Concluding sentence: link back to question

Skrzynecki - 1st poem:

Introductory sentence: Link to question

Summary of poem (relating it to question)

1st example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

2nd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

3rd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

4thexample (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

Concluding sentence (link to question)

Skrzynecki - 2nd poem:

Introductory sentence: Link to question

Compare and contrast 2nd poem to 1st poem (synthesise)

Summary of poem (relating it to question)

1st example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

2nd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

3rd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

4thexample (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question)

Concluding sentence (link to question)

Related text:

Introductory sentence: Link to question

Compare and contrast related text to two Skrzynecki poems (synthesis - this should be done throughout this paragraph as well)

Summary of text (relating it to question)

1st example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question and Skrzynecki poem)

2nd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question and Skrzynecki poem)

3rd example (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question and Skrzynecki poem)

4thexample (context, technique, quotation, effect, link to belonging question and Skrzynecki poem)

Concluding sentence (link to question)

Conclusion:

Summarise 3 texts discussed and how they link to the question

Compare texts to each other

Link back to question in an interesting way

Relate texts to audience

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