Edgar Allan Poe


Section #1: Biographical Background: Your essay should begin by providing about 1 page of biographical background on the poet you have chosen. Both the Poetry Foundation website and Poets.org should have biographical background about your poet. If they don’t have information about your poet, you can look elsewhere or choose a different poet. Poetry Foundation’s biographical statements tend to be more in-depth. Read both, and then write your own biographical overview, which may contain a few quotations, but which should largely consist of your own words. If your sentences are too similar to those of your sources, Turnitin.com will call that plagiarism, so be vigilant about recasting the material into sentences that are significantly different from those in your sources. Since your biographical sketch will most likely be shorter than the one at the Poetry Foundation, you need to step back and decide what information is most essential. Imagine that you are writing for a fellow college student who is not familiar with your poet. What would he or she need to know to begin to appreciate and understand this poet? Section #2: Report on a Group of Poems: Most of the poets you’ve chosen have probably written a number of poems of moderate length. The selections by Shakespeare in the Norton Anthology, for instance, are mostly sonnets. However, a poet like Walt Whitman is primarily known for the long poems he has written, like “Song of Myself.” In this roughly 2-page section, you should report on your findings after reading 8-10 poems of moderate length by your poet. If your poet tends to write poems that are several pages long, I will, of course, understand if you report on fewer poems. In that case, you might read a long poem and 5 or 6 shorter poems. Section #3: Close Reading of One Poem: In this final section, you should look closely at one poem. Perhaps you mentioned this poem in the previous section, but since this poem will get a lot of attention in this section, best to focus on others in the previous section. This poem might be the one you liked best, the one that intrigued you most. It might be a poem that is central to your poet’s oeuvre, but it does not have to be the most famous poem he or she wrote. It should not be radically brief (like Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of Metro,” which is two lines long). Make sure it’s substantial enough to merit a discussion of 2-3 pages. Your full essay, therefore, should be about 5-6 double-spaced pages long. You can write more if you like, but I am more interested in quality than quantity. This estimated length does not include your works cited page.  Your essay should adhere to MLA formatting and citation rules. Sections 2 & 3 should each have their own thesis statements. Thus, you should brainstorm an excess of material before beginning to compose. Then present your best ideas and observations in a focused and organized manner so that everything you discuss in that section is relevant to your thesis statement. Also, your essay should have a title that is centered at the top of page one. It should reflect the nature of your essay and contain the name of your poet. Then, you should provide a label before each of the three sections, flush to the left margin, in bold face, followed by a colon, like this: Section 1: Biographical Background:

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