For your first paper in this class, you will perform a close reading of a single
For your first paper in this class, you will perform a close reading of a single poem from our assigned readings. Any poem listed in our weekly guides is eligible. The objective is to use all of the techniques you have learned about analyzing poetry in order to produce a short essay on a major theme developed in a poem. You will devote the majority of the paper to analyzing how the poet uses many of the literary conventions of poetry like imagery, tone, diction, metaphor, and other devices to advance their perspective on a theme in the poem. Introduction: Use your introduction to set up your thesis statement, which should advance an argument about a central theme in the poem. Don’t just provide information as though you were writing a report; it must be vital to understanding your argument about the poem. All of this should set up your thesis at the end, which should be an argument about the poet’s perspective on this theme and your interpretation of its significance. You may choose any theme you find compelling and worthy of a close reading. Don’t worry about trying to predict the poet’s intent or trying to “solve” the poem. They aren’t riddles, and authors are not the God of a text. Instead, explore what the theme in the poem says to you based on a systematic and thoughtful analysis of the poem. Let’s use my poem about the parrots for example. A good thesis statement about the poem could be “Chase Dimock uses the symbolism of parrots witnessing the horrors of colonialism and the Spanish Inquisition to explore how history silences oppressed voices and privileges the perspectives of the powerful.” This thesis focuses on a specific theme in the poem, gives a detailed explanation of what the poem expresses about the theme, and gestures toward how the poem does that. Supporting Paragraphs: Devote the rest of the paper to closely interpreting the perspective of the poet on your chosen theme. Use this section to systematically analyze the poem by looking at how the poet uses literary devices to express their feelings on the theme. Analyze how the poet uses at least three of the literary devices that we have analyzed in class. You can use as many as you like. The most successful papers will provide detailed and thorough analysis of how the poetry chooses their words, writes their lines, and structures their poem as a whole to advance their perspective on the theme. In short, use all the tricks of literary analysis that we performed in class. A word of advice: avoid organizing your paragraphs by literary device. Separate paragraphs about metaphor, tone, diction, etc. will end up being repetitive because a single line can contain all of these. Instead, organize your paragraphs around how the poet develops their theme and perspective over the course of the poem. Each paragraph’s main argument should be about a key idea that the poet expresses that relates back to the argument in your thesis statement.

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