English 207: Studies in Poetry

Dr. Morillo


Paper 3 assignment
Length: 4- 5 double-spaced pages

Due as a draft, graded pass/fail, Wednesday, November 16 at the start of class

Due revised, letter-graded, at the final exam, Wednesday, December 14 at 1pm. The revised paper grade will count for 15% of your final grade.

For this paper you will combine independent interpretation and evaluation, the levels of thinking many consider more challenging and important. This paper is based on a real situation. I was consulted for which poems to include in the 3rd edition of the Seagull Reader, and for this paper you will face the same problem I did. Critics of poetry and publishers always have to make tough decisions about which works to include in any anthology, and these decisions are always based on quality, not quantity.

So now you must choose any one poem in the Seagull Reader that you think most deserves to be in the book. You may choose one that is already in the book or one that you think should be added to it. The poem does not have to be one on our syllabus or covered prior in class. Write a 4-5 page essay in which you explain as precisely and concretely as you can whatever it is you think makes the poem an excellent one most worth keeping in the anthology for future students to read.  Draw upon whatever aspects of poetry we have learned about and you find most relevant to making a persuasive case for why your chosen poem is so good.  Your decision is of course based on your decisions and opinions, but aim to explain to others what is so good about your poem. Like a good critic try to speak for your audience, not just about yourself.

You should now have a considerably expanded range of possibilities compared to what you had in your first essay for this class, because you now know the terminology of poetry and how to use it to both criticize and write verse. Consider the poem’s form as a significant part of its content. Draw on your own experience as a poet. Picking the best of anything is an inherently comparative task, so be sure to spend some time reading a good selection of poems before settling on your choice. Although persuasion about which poem is best requires argument, when writing about poetry interpretation of meaning is not the be all and end all of what is important about art, so I encourage including how to address the aesthetic qualities of art, beauty, and the pleasure all good poetry provides.

Aim for clear expository writing: you will be making points about what makes the poem so good, and offering concrete evidence for those points.

Because this is a more challenging writing assignment, you will turn in a pass/fail graded draft to me, I'll comment on it, and you'll revise the same paper to turn in for a letter grade at the end of the semester by bringing your revised paper to the final exam.


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