Poetry Responses



The nature of poetry has always been problematic or mysterious, leading poets, readers, critics, and scholars to fashion their own solutions and definitions. Our goal this school year is not to remove the mystery of poetry; instead, our goal is for you to discover the pleasure and values of poetry even if, or even though, poetry itself is inexplicable. This year we will approach or come nearer to poetry in two ways. We will study poetry through a formal or structured study in class; we will also study poetry informally through poetry responses. The goal of both methods will be for you to come nearer and more comfortable with poetry since a large portion of the AP exam includes poetry.

Every week you will choose one poem from the list of poems I give you and write a response to it. Your response should be typed, 12 pt. font, double spaced, and one page in length.

What should you write for a poetry response? You have several options: an analysis of the poem, relating what you think the theme is - an explanation of the theme; a narration of a personal experience, relating the poem to yourself. What you write is up to you as long as you say something besides how you have no idea what the poem is about. I will give you some samples. Remember you are permitted to select the poem you read, so if the poem you read first doesn’t “do it for you,” select something else. This is NOT a group project. You will do your own response and your response should not match the response of someone else.

Here are some general guidelines for reading the poems:
v Remember to listen to the poem.
v Read slowly. Take your time. A poem isn’t meant for speed reading anymore that you would speed listen to your favorite song.
v Read straight through the first time, getting a feel for the poem, without worrying about what you do not know.
v Read the poem several times, just as you listen to a song several times, getting to know it; feel the life within it, each time discovering something new.
v Notice the title. Titles are not labels. They can sometimes offer an entry point or can be part of the poem. They can set a tone or atmosphere, create tension, even interact with the poem itself.
v Read the poem aloud at least once. Because sounds and rhythms are critical parts of poetry, it helps to hear poems, not just day them in your mind.

General Guidelines:
v Your poetry response is due at the beginning of class each TUESDAY. If you are absent, you should turn in your response the day you return to class (regardless of number of days absent).
v I will not take late poetry responses – do not ask!
v You may not make up missed poetry responses; please realize how important this assignment is for you and for your grade in this class.
v Poetry responses must be typed and one page in length.

Each poetry response is worth 30 points.