Poetry essays

General advice on poetry essay:

  1. Length of your essay = absolute minimum 3 & a half pages (some people can and will write more in 50 minutes).
  2. It’s ok to deal with four poems (not all six you’ve studied) in your essay BUT KNOW at least 5 – it depends on the question asked which poems you’ll choose to discuss.
  3. Your essay MUST deal with WHAT THE POET SAYS (themes/ideas) and HOW THE POET SAYS IT (techniques). What techniques has the poet used in the quotes you’ve included AND WHY!!! (effect of the technique on the poem/reader).
  4. Focus on answering the question – first and last sentence of each paragraph must connect (what you will discuss/have discussed) to the question asked.
  5. Opening sentence of your essay – please don’t simply parrot back the question word for word. You must respond to the question immediately but there are more subtle ways to do it! “I agree fully” sentences are a yawn-fest for the examiner.
  6. Final sentences of your essay – personal response. What insight or wisdom have you gained from studying this poet. What feelings did his/her poetry evoke in you.

Good luck!

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