Poetry Essay Study Guide by Ralph and Laura

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Transcript Poetry Essay Study Guide by Ralph and Laura

The AP English
Tackling The Poetry Essay
The purpose of the poetry essay section of the AP English examination is to see how
well the test taker can critically break down a poem and search for key elements such as
Author's purpose and certain literary techniques that allow the poem to grow and spread
the author’s message. For Example author’s like Robert Frost (used on the AP Exam)
much of his poems involve personal affairs and messages that he has used in his poems
to empower the writing. The prompts are the key to writing a well developed essay that
should include a clear analysis of the prompt. From the 2002 Poetry Essay Question the
prompt was from the work: “The Convergence of the Twain” (Thomas Hardy)Prompt:
Read the following poem carefully. Then, taking into consideration the title of the poem,
Analyze how the poetic devices convey the speaker’s attitude toward the sinking of the
This Prompt is clearly asking for an interpretation of the Author’s attitude or tone which
is connected to the poem as a whole because discovering the attitude of the author is key
to developing a feel for his purpose and how is perspective is elicited within the poem.
The best way to understand the prompts is to break them down and focus on what is
being asked. You may want to simplify what is being asked so that you can better grasp
what the prompt is about. Be sure to always keep the prompt in mind when writing your
The Poetry essay section of the AP exam expects your essay to meet certain
Use a diverse and intellectual vocabulary to procure your writing. (this shows your
coherency of AP level vocabulary and that you know how to apply it to your
Be sure to pre write your essay. Write down your ideas in an outline format in order
to direct your writing.
Be sure you completely understand the prompts and the significance of the poem,
remember that most prompts are STRUCTURAL . Their focus is to make sure that
you are aware of the literary techniques the author in his/her writing. For example
in the 2008B Poem: “Hawk Roosting” (Ted Hughes) and “Golden Retrievals”
(Mark Doty) Prompt: The following two poems present animal-eye views of the
world. Read each poem carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the
techniques used in the poems to characterize the speakers and convey differing
views of the world.
When writing your essay, be sure to make the body paragraphs the details and use
evidence from the poem to support your claims, your intro needs to be short and
not detailed. The conclusion is just a restatement of the introduction.
The Essential Literary Elements
Read the two poems carefully. Then, in a well-written essay, compare and contrast
the two poems, taking into consideration the poetic techniques Blake uses in each.
This is an essay question in the 2005 exam, in this essay you have to compare and
contrast the two poems written by William Blake, which should be easy
considering you just have to recognize the differences and similarities between the
two versions of “The Chimney Sweeper.” While comparing and contrasting you
can also emphasize poetic techniques such as rhythmic patterns, shifts, and
alliterations to better describe the connections between the two works. Literary
elements are key to understanding the prompt in this question which you will find
for most prompts in this section. Always be clear to note the author’s purpose and
the context evidence that supports the poem as a whole. The literary elements
often included in the poems, such as imagery, diction, and figurative language are
major in developing poetry and the faster you identify these elements within the
poetry, the better you will be for supporting your claims and connecting lines of
the poems to your given prompt. The author’s purpose is also clearly involved in
the use of language mechanics, when imagery is used for example, you see the
clear ideals the author is trying to get along. The best constructed essay of this
section is written by one who understands the prompts thoroughly, quickly
identifiies the usage of literary elements, and is clear on the Author’s purpose and
how all these aspects tie together to the significance of the poem as a whole.
Study Tips
Review old exams and note similarities in
prompts. Be ready to expect prompts in
the styles of the years previous.
Enhance your vocabulary to build a
stronger essay and support your claims
and ideas on the prompt in a sophisticated
Be sure you understand the author’s
purpose for it will help you write your
essay and support your claims with
evidence from the text related his the
Place the important information and
examples in the body paragraphs. Make
sure your intro and conclusion are not to
wordy and full of detail.
Be sure to read your essay over to make
sure you clearly identified the prompt and
provided adequate examples
• http://homepage.mac.com/mseffie/AP/Poetry
_Essays.pdf (Prompts)