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The first paper in the course takes poetry as the subject. You can find questions to respond to below. The length is described by word count not by page length. Typically, people count about 200 to 250 words per page, though. This paper should be at minimum about 900 words in length. This does not include the Works Cited page.

Papers should be submitted in MLA format. In addition, there are several sample papers in the Bedford Compact Introduction to Literature. Here are additional samples. See the Writing about Poetry chapter starting on page 563 or any of the other samples in the text. If papers are submitted outside the format you will receive a message from me informing you that the paper is unable to be assessed.

Choose from one of these potential papers:

1. What is the significance of imagery to making meaning in poetry? Here’s another way of thinking about the question: how do poets express ideas through imagery? Be specific. Don’t just describe a few poetic images to an audience. Rather, pick a few poems, identify and describe the images they develop, and then examine their significance to your overall reading of the poems. Consider this: let’s say a poet develops images of birds and you think the poem is concerned with peace. How does the image (birds) evoke peace? In all this, details matter.

2. How does poetry treat significant ideas in terms of subject and/or theme? Explore a few poems in terms of this broad question. Let’s say you read a poem and you think it’s about earthquakes. What in the poem–its syntax, form, figures, diction, sound, for example–contributes to this reading of “earthquake.” Maybe you think a poem is about the importance of doing absolutely nothing for big parts of the day. Explain why using the text of the poems and the elements (formal and aesthetic) of poetry you’ve learned up to this point in the semester.


1. MLA Format

2. Most likely about 1000 words in length, not counting header, title, and works cited.

3. Submitted at the beginning of class on the due date. Papers must be submitted on time. If students cannot attend the session, papers must be submitted prior to 1:00PM electronically or via passenger pigeon.