Poetry Essay Planning for AP English Literature
Timing and Planning the Poetry Essay
Successful writing is directly related to both thought and structure, and you will need to consider the following concepts related to pre-writing.
How should I plan to spend my time writing the poetry essay?
Remember, timing is crucial. With this in mind, here's a workable strategy:
- 1–3 minutes reading and "working the prompt."
- 5 minutes reading and making marginal notes about the poem. Try to isolate two refer ences that strike you. This may give you your opening and closing.
- 10 minutes preparing to write. (Choose one or two of the following methods that you feel comfortable with.)
- Highlighting, underlining, circling, bracketing
- Marginal mapping (see Chapter 4 for samples)
- Key word/one word/line number outlining
- Numerical clustering
- 20 minutes to write your essay, based on your preparation.
- 3 minutes for proofreading.
Working the Prompt
It is important to understand that the quality of your essay greatly depends upon your correctly addressing the prompt.
How should I go about reading the poetry prompt?
You should plan to spend 1–3 minutes carefully reading the question. This will give you time to really digest what the question is asking you to do.
Here's the prompt:
In "On the Subway," Sharon Olds brings two worlds into close proximity. Identify the contrasts that develop both portraits in the poem and discuss the insights the narrator comes to as a result of the experience. Refer to such literary techniques as poetic devices, tone, imagery, and organization.
Here are three reasons why you should do a 1–3 minute careful analysis of the prompt:
- Once you know what is expected, you will read in a more directed manner.
- Once you internalize the question, you will be sensitive to the details that will apply as you read the poem.
- Once you know all the facets that need to be addressed, you will be able to write a complete essay that demonstrates adherence to the topic.
Do this now. Highlight, circle, or underline the essential terms and elements in the prompt. Time yourself. How long did it take you?
Compare our highlighting of the prompt with yours.
In "On the Subway," Sharon Olds brings two worlds into close proximity. Identify the contrasts that develop both portraits in the poem and discuss the insights the narrator comes to as a result of the experience. Refer to such literary techniques as tone, poetic devices, imagery, and organization.
In this prompt, anything else you may have highlighted is extraneous.
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