Modern Poetry

English 3325 - Spring 2012

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Assignment Self Evaluation

Before the final exam, you must e-mail me a brief self-evaluation of your assignments, especially your Facebook postings, taking into account the following criteria:

  • Did you do all the assignments?
  • Did you do them on time?
  • How well did you do them?

E-mail me at

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Essay #2: Second Generation Modern Poets


The goal of this assignment is to formulate the poetics of a second generation modern poet and demonstrate it through the analysis of several representative works by that poet. The Houghton Mifflin Free Online Dictionary defines poetics as:

  1. Literary criticism that deals with the nature, forms, and laws of poetry.
  2. A treatise on or study of poetry or aesthetics.
  3. The practice of writing poetry; poetic composition.


In order for you to successfully write this essay I suggest the following steps:

  1. Select one of the following poets from Volume 1 of the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry:
  1. Charles Reznikoff
  2. Jean Toomer
  3. Robert Graves
  4. Louise Bogan
  5. Hart Crane
  6. Laura Riding
  7. Sterling Brown
  8. Lorine Niedecker
  9. Louis Zukofsky
  10. Robert Penn Warren
  11. Kenneth Rexroth
  12. Louis MacNiece
  13. George Oppen
  14. Theodore Roethke
  1. Read the introduction on the poet and all of the poet’s works in our anthology.
  2. Research the poet, his/her life, poetry, affiliations with poets and/or poetic movements, essays or manifestos written by the poet, and articles written about their work.
  3. Formulate what you think his/her poetics is all about. This is your thesis statement.
  4. Choose 1 long poem or 2-3 short poems by that poet and analyze and interpret it/them in light of those poetics.
  5. Write your essay. Proving your thesis, supporting it with selected analysis of the poems.


The final paper should be about 800 words long (3-4 pages) in MLA format (typed, double-spaced, with 1” margins, and a 12-point Arial, Times, or Times New Roman font). Any use of sources must be documented in impeccable MLA format—parenthetical citation (author’s last name & page number) and works cited page. A printed copy of this essay is due in class on Friday, May 4, though I will accept late papers without penalty until Friday, May 11.


Your essay will be evaluated in the following areas, with areas 1-3 carrying most of the weight of the grade:

  1. Assignment (fulfilling requirements, quality of thesis, and depth of analysis),
  2. Organization (clarity of thesis, thorough paragraphing, overall organization),
  3. Development (relevance of claims, adequacy of support, and textual evidence),
  4. Sentence Structure, Word Choice, and Grammar (weaknesses will be identified in these areas, but they will not affect grade significantly unless they get in the way of understanding the essay).

An essay that satisfies all the requirements of the assignment with a clear sense of organization and adequate development earns a “C” in this class. An essay that achieves the goals at an above average level of proficiency, with only minor problems in one or two areas earns a “B.” The “A” is reserved for nearly flawless, elegant essays that excel in all the criteria described above. Essays that do not fulfill the minimum requirements for the assignment earn a “D.” Only essays that are not turned in, are plagiarized, or are not a serious effort to meet the assignment earn an “F” in this class.

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