You may write your essay on any of the poems listed on the syllabus or on any other poems in the anthology that is by a poet that is on the syllabus.  It should be and adhere to the Essay Format guidelines specified on your course outline.  

Use the Essay Evaluation Checklist for guidelines on essay requirements.  All the items on the Checklist are explained in Quick Access and The Clear Path.  You are not required to use secondary sources for this essay.  If you do consult critical sources and they influence your interpretation (even if you don’t quote directly from the source), you must acknowledge these sources by using parenthetical citations in the essay and by listing the sources on the Works Cited page.  Before consulting or using any critical sources, carefully review Ch.16, “Avoiding Plagiarism,” in Quick Access.

Topics:

1. Write an explication of a short poem. Discuss the poem in detail, explaining how its main poetic elements create a particular theme or tone.  Chapter three in The Clear Path: A Guide to Writing English Essays provides an explanation and sample of poetry explication.

2. Write an analysis of a specific element (i.e. imagery, figurative language, voice, diction, sound, etc.) in a longer poem, explaining how this element contributes to the poem’s meaning.  See Guidelines for Reading a Poem (#3 Analysis) for questions on analysing particular poetic elements.

3. Choose two poems by the same poet and write an analysis of a particular element that is characteristic of that poet’s work (i.e. Emily Dickinson’s idiosyncratic capitalization and punctuation, rhymes, or verse forms).

4. Write an analysis of a poem based on one of the Critical Approaches to Interpreting a Literary Text (in Week 1 notes).  Use the questions under a specific critical approach as guidelines for developing an argument.

5. Choose a short poem and write a defense of its excellence.  What makes this poem a work of art?  In arguing your case, first set up the terms by which you will judge the poem and then demonstrate how the poem succeeds according to those standards.

6. Compare two poems that share a similar subject.  Compare what they say about this subject (their themes), how they develop their themes, and decide which one is more satisfying or effective poetry.  Some suggestions for common subject comparisons are listed below.

· Love, Desire, and Devotion: Shakespeare, Sonnet 18 and Sonnet 130;  Marvel, “To His Coy Mistress”;  Cohen, “Suzanne Takes You Down;” Ondaatje, “The Cinnamon Peeler”;  Atwood , “Variations on the Word Love,”

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