Weekly Response Writing

Weekly Response Writing #7
Due:  10/31, 11:59 pm
Possible Points:                100
STEP 1:  Make yourself familiar with the following readings

In preparation for this writing, it is advisable that you read (and re-read) the selections below and make notes on them PRIOR to writing the weekly response.  Do not just “wing it.”

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1–Phillis Wheatley’s “On Being Brought from Africa to America” p. 409

2–Robert Hayden’s “A letter from Phillis Wheatley” p. 412-413

3–Langston Hughes’ “Ballad of the Landlord” p. 437

4–e.e. cummings’ “next to of course god america i” p. 438

5–Lucille Clifton’s “cream of wheat” p. 439

6–Judith Ortiz Cofer’s “The Changeling” p. 441


STEP 2:  Speaker:  Whose Voice Do We Hear? 

“Poems are personal.  The thoughts and feelings they express belong to a specific person, and however general or universal their sentiments seem to be, poems come to us as the expression of an individual human voice.  That voice is often a voice of the poet, but not always.  Poets sometimes create characters just as writers of fiction or drama do.  And the speakerof a poem may express ideas or feelings very different from the poet’s own and in a distinct voice . . . And sometimes, in looking for the speaker of the poem, we discover the gist of the entire poem” (Mays 428).


STEP 3: 

Think about the poetry selections above and consider the voice and the speaker of each poem.  Consider the steps below and questions to ask when reading and analyzing poetry (from Mays 414-422) as you answer the prompt in STEP 4 below:


1.      Listen to a poem first.

2.       Articulate your expectations, starting with the title.

3.       Read the syntax literally.

a.       Identify sentences

b.      Re-order sentences

c.       Replace each pronoun with the antecedent noun it replaces.

d.      Translate sentences into modern prose.

e.      Note any ambiguities in the original language that you might have ignored in your translation.

4.       Consult reference works.

5.       Figure out who, where, when, and what happens.

6.       Formulate tentative answers to the questions:  Why does it matter? What does it all mean?

7.       Consider how the poem’s form contributes to its effect and meaning.

8.       Investigate and consider the ways the poem both uses and departs from poetic conventions, especially those related to form and subgenre.

9.       Argue.  (continued on next page . . .)


STEP 4:   Writing the Response

Write a response in which you describe and analyze the main speakers of any threepoems from the selection of six poems from STEP 1 above:


  1. The response writing must be 3paragraphs long, typed, double-spaced, Calibri, 12-point font.The response writing is to clearly address the three poems you have chosen from the poetry selections in STEP 1 above (one paragraph per poem).Properly cite the poetry selections using MLA format and provide a separate Works Cited page.


  1. Paragraphs must be written in 8-10 complete sentences each, making sure that grammar, spelling, and mechanics are used properly.


  1. Formulate a thesis for each paragraph of your writing response.(Each paragraph is essentially a mini response writing).


  1. Choose supporting evidence wisely.  Be precise and concise.


  1. Refer to specific evidence from the three poems.  Response must include 3 direct quotations with explanations (do not just “quote plunk”) to support your claims about the poem’s effects, meaning, or development of the speaker.


Please note:  The Response is NOT to reflect on, recount, “regurgitate,” describe, or summarize the poetry selections, but it is to address, analyze, explain, and support the prompt with textual evidence.   This response is a place to show how you think and analyze a poem in relationship to speaker.


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