see attached
Essay 1: 3-4 pages
Write a thoughtful, balanced, and convincing essay that analyzes and interprets one poem from the
list below. These are to be read and studied outside of the readings in the assignment calendar. To
locate these authors and titles, go to, the website for the Academy of American Poets, and
type them in the search menu at top right. Your essay must incorporate a poem from this list
only; if it doesn’t, I will require you to re-do the essay.

▪ Kim Addonizio, “My Heart”

▪ W.H. Auden, “The Unknown Citizen”

▪ Stephen Crane, “War is Kind” (excerpt)

▪ Emily Dickinson, “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed” or “There’s a Certain Slant of Light”

▪ Rita Dove, “Borderline Mambo”

▪ Martín Espada, “The Republic of Poetry”

▪ Terrance Hayes, “Barberism”

▪ Gerard Manley Hopkins, “Spring”

▪ Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B” or “The Weary Blues”

▪ Sylvia Plath, “Morning Song”

▪ Stevie Smith, “Not Waving but Drowning”

Under “Possible approaches” below are listed several possible inroads to constructing a well-
fortified interpretation. You can use just one of these approaches, or you can combine two
approaches that seem to belong together. Choose wisely! Again, these approaches are just possible
starts; if you have another idea not listed here, let me know. Please do not simply regurgitate ideas
from discussion or elsewhere. I am interested in what you think. Concentrate on your analysis,
your opinion—but it is crucial that you also provide supporting evidence from the poem you
Don’t feel like you have to start with a perfectly formed idea in order to begin writing. First do
some freewriting. Jot down threads you think you might explore, Draw a map or write a list of
connections you can make. Experiment. Write a tentative thesis statement. Write a rough draft or
two. In short, brainstorm and “prewrite” as much as you can. If you get stuck, put the formal draft
aside and try to “unstick” yourself with some freewriting. Above all, don’t get frustrated when you
don’t write the paper from beginning to end with no stops or hesitation. Whatever you do, keep
writing—even if you end up changing some of what you’ve written.
If you’ve grappled and tested possibilities for a while and are stuck, or if you need a sounding board
for your ideas, email me in iCollege. Don’t forget we also have a Learning and Tutoring Center on all
campuses, staffed by professional tutors who are happy to work with you:
Possible approaches:
▪ Word choice: What specific words or phrasings seem to carry particular weight? Why are
these words chosen, and what is their effect on the poem?
▪ Imagery: What concrete images dominate the poem? Why are they chosen and what is their
effect? (Examples from readings include the vivid, sometimes startling visual and kinetic
images in “Eating Poetry,” “The Fish,” and “wishes for sons.”)