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Selection #8

SHERMAN ALEXIE The Facebook Sonnet

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RICHARD BRAUTIGAN All Watched over by Machines of Loving Grace

Description of Assignment:

A literary analysis essay pulls apart a piece of writing to examine its technique and understand its themes and ideas. For this assignment, you will choose one selection of two poems from the list on the next page and write an analytical essay, no less than 3 pages in length (with an additional works cited page that includes your two poems as primary sources and at least two secondary sources), that  analyzes, compares and contrasts how the poems use two or more of the poetic devices on the Poetic Devices Glossary (we will address this soon). It will be important to use appropriate terminology in your analysis.


The introduction should focus on the poetic devices you will be analyzing in the poems, not necessarily the poets or history of the poems, although a little background on the authors can be helpful in the introduction.  Your thesis should focus on the poetic devices you will analyze in the poems.

The body should examine different ways the poetic devices show up in the poems; for instance, if you were focusing on theme, then you may look at the way the theme is expressed in symbols, imagery, structure, tone, etc. In addition, the body should help us see what is to be gained by comparing and contrasting the poems’ unique take on your chosen poetic devices. Spend less time on the historical context of the poem or the author. Avoid analyzing one poem separately from the other.  Organize the paper point-by-point (more on that in class).

The conclusion should restate your thesis and examine any new understandings that arise from analyzing the poems. What should we take with us about the themes? What have you uncovered in these texts that is worth remembering? What do we gain by analyzing the same poetic devices in two different poems?


·         MLA formatted with in-text citations and a works cited page

·         3 pages (plus a works cited page), typed, double-spaced, 12pt font, Times

·         Two sources in addition to your two poems

Important Notes For poetry analysis


Peer Edit for Poetry Analysis Essay

1. Examine

the thesis carefully.  Has the writer assembled a forceful statement that lends clarity and dimension to the poem’s theme, structure, imagery, voice, etc.?  How might the writer improve the content and the phrasing?

2. Comment on the strength (or weakness) of the comparison between the two poems.  Offer points for improvement.

3. Does the writer offer a convincing explication of the connection between the two poems?

4. Do the points in the body point back to the thesis?

5. How well does the author explain metaphors, similes, images and symbols in the poems as they relate to the thesis?

6. Is the analysis repetitive in places, or does the body continue to build on new ideas?

7. Is the point-by-point arrangement in the body evident?

8. Does the author quote often enough from the poems? What about outside sources? Are they used in a meaningful way?

9. Does the writer remember to write consistently in present tense, in active voice?

10. Does the writer introduce and cite all quotations?

11. Suggest changes for awkward phrasing, grammar, and mechanics (putting all punctuation inside quotation marks, for example).

12. Point out places for improving transitions within and between paragraphs.

13. Check the writer’s use of MLA in citing, building a Works Cited page, creating a proper heading and title.  Good titles briefly comment on theme and include the title of the literary work:  Familial Demise in John Updike’s “Separating.”