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Tips for Writing About Poetry


... atmosphere to all of the love and romance involved in [a] person's life. ... Poems. Short Stories. One-act Plays. Songs. TV episode. Articles/essays. Web Pages ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Tips for Writing About Poetry

Tips for Writing About Poetry
  • Introductions/Conclusions
  • Thesis Statements
  • Organization
  • Development of Argument
  • Incorporating Quotations
  • Stylistic Concerns
  • MLA Format

Tips Introductions
  • Avoid reflecting on the assignment The poem I
    chose to analyze is
  • Establish the issue question about the poem you
    want to address
  • Grab the readers attention
  • Establish the parameters for your essay in a
    thesis near the end of the introduction
  • Do not claim to prove something
  • Narrow your focus with every sentence

Tips Introductions
  • Example opening sentence
  • The poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold compares
    a beautiful sea and its atmosphere to all of the
    love and romance involved in a persons life.
  • Notice how the sentence conveys important
  • poem,
  • poet,
  • overall focus and action of the poem

Tips Conclusions
  • Avoid simply repeating your introduction
  • Highlight the main points of your essay, but do
    not just summarize the main points
  • Do not raise new information
  • Leave your reader with something to think about
  • Provide closure to your argument
  • Do not claim absolute authority over the issue or
    the poem

Tips Thesis Statements
  • A Thesis statement is not
  • A summary of the poem
  • A statement of the poems theme
  • An indisputable fact
  • A description of/observation about a poem
  • An opinion that cannot be rationally debated
    E.G. This poem sucks or I think this is the
    greatest poem ever written
  • A fact disguised as opinion I think this poem
    uses a lot different metaphors.
  • A trite, insignificant point

Tips Thesis Statements
  • A Thesis statement is
  • A statement of the writers opinion
  • A debatable position that can be supported with
    direct textual evidence
  • An analysis of the content, structure, or
    rhetorical techniques of a poem
  • The focal point that establishes the parameters
    for the entire essay
  • A promise to the reader that must be fulfilled

Tips Thesis Statements
  • A Thesis statement contains
  • A clear, concise, focused opinion
  • Keywords to provide specificity and focus
  • A debatable positionif no one disagrees with it,
    why even present it as an argument?
  • An implicit purpose (persuade, inform, etc.)
  • An implicit contract between writer reader

Tips Thesis Statements
  • Example Thesis
  • Through Roethkes use of diction, rhythm,
    imagery, and irony, My Papas Waltz proves to
    not be as smooth as expected.
  • Notice the key words!
  • Notice the clear focus
  • Notice the emphasis on effect
  • Notice the need for more specificity at the end.
    What is significant about the effect?

Tips Organization
  • Structure the body paragraphs around the specific
    rhetorical techniques (elements of poetry) that
    you have chosen
  • Do not structure your essay by following a
    line-by-line description/explication
  • Each sub-topic (i.e. rhetorical technique) should
    receive its own paragraph
  • Think about the order of each technique and its
    effect on your overall discussion
  • Use effective, logical transitions to shift
    between sub-topics (not just first, second,

Tips Development
  • Paragraph organization
  • Move from abstract to concrete, general to
  • Begin with a statement of the sub-topic (i.e.
    rhetorical technique
  • No need to define the technique
  • Provide a specific example from the poem
  • Explain how it works in the poem and its effect
    on the theme, tone, etc.
  • Analyze its significance

Tips Incorporating Quotations
  • Do not simply provide a quotation and then
    paraphrase or explicate it
  • Use quotations after making a claim, argument, or
    observation to support it
  • Quotations are textual evidence for some point
    you are arguing
  • Incorporate quotations into the grammar and
    syntax of your own writing
  • Do not drop-in quotations
  • Introduce quotations by linking their content to
    previous statements, not by referring to line s

Tips Incorporating Quotations
  • A writer must quote from the text
  • What to quote
  • Single words
  • Short Phrases
  • Longer passages or stanzas
  • How to quote
  • Use quotation marks
  • Use slash / to mark a line break
  • Incorporate into grammar and syntax
  • Cite the line numbers of your source

Tips Incorporating Quotations
  • Example citation
  • The rhyme scheme and pattern are not exact rhymes
    like dizzy / easy (2 and 4) and pans /
    countenance (5 and 7).
  • Notice introduction of material focuses on rhyme,
    not diction
  • Notice the quotation marks and parenthetical line
  • Notice some syntax and format problems
  • What about the statements significance?

Tips Incorporating Quotations
  • Example citation
  • The rhyme scheme and pattern are not exact rhymes
    like dizzy / easy (2 and 4) and pans /
    countenance (5 and 7).
  • Revised example
  • Roethke employs partial rhymes like dizzy with
    easy (2 4) and pans with countenance (5
    7) to complement the tension between the
    characters and the ambiguity of the poems

Tips Stylistic Concerns
  • Use present tense verbs when discussing the plot
    or techniques used in a literary work
  • Use past tense verbs when discussing context,
    such as biographical or historical information
  • Use strong verbs avoid do, make, take,
  • Use passive voice sparingly, if at all

MLA (Modern Language Association) Title
  • Quotation Marks

Initial Caps Only
Poems Short Stories One-act Plays Songs TV
episode Articles/essays Web Pages
Books (novels, history, biography) Drama (i.e
plays) CDs, Albums, etc. TV Program Journals or
other periodical publications Web Sites
Religious or sacred texts (Bible, Koran, Talmud,
Torah) Generic or numbered titles for works of
art (Sonnet 73, Opus No. 7, Oil on Canvas No. 16)
MLA Format
  • Use parenthetical in-text citation format
  • (Jones 26) (author page)
  • Use authors name if it is otherwise unclear
  • Do not use any abbreviations for pages, etc.
  • Cite poetry by line number
  • Cite all prose, fiction/non-fiction, by page
  • Cite all drama by Act, Scene, and line if in
    verse using Arabic numerals (1.5.36-54)

MLA Format Works Cited
  • All in-text citations must refer to an item in a
    list. That list must contain all the information
    a reader needs to find the exact quotation you
    are using.
  • The list of items, or sources, used in a paper
    is called a Works Cited. If there is only one
    source, then it is called a Work Cited.

MLA Format Works Cited
  • The following information must be included in a
    Works Cited entry
  • Name of the author of the workLast, First
  • Title of the work, with proper format quotation
    marks, underlined, etc.
  • Title of the source if the work is contained
    inside a larger book
  • Publication information, including
  • Edition
  • Editor
  • City, Publisher, and Year of publication
  • Inclusive page numbers for the work

MLA Format Works Cited
  • Work Cited
  • Oliver, Mary. Singapore. Making Literature
    Matter An Anthology for Readers and Writers.
    2nd ed. Eds. John Schilb and John Clifford.
    Boston Bedford, 2003. 118-19.