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									PIB American Literature
Poetry Oral Commentary Assignment

How to Structure Your Commentary

After you fill the poem with notes and annotations and make some sort of sense of them, find a
pattern worth discussing. Next, take time to do some basic research on the historical, biographical,
and cultural (literary movements, etc.) context of your poem. (You’ll need to include a bibliography of
works consulted. Make sure your sources are reliable. No Wikipedia, etc. DO NOT CONSULT
secondary sources that offer interpretations of the poem. DO NOT RESEARCH the poem itself.)
Think about how this information might shed light on your poem. How does the context help you
interpret your poem? Does it, combined with your annotations, help you craft a thesis statement?
Now, combine your observations of the poem itself with any insight you’ve gained from the
historical/biographical/cultural context of the poem to create a workable thesis – you are ready to
begin writing.

Here are some basics to keep in mind:

Introductory Paragraph
     Introduce the text’s title, the author, and a very brief paraphrase of the poem that ideally
       focuses on the general direction/topic you plan to discuss.
     Go for clarity and specifics in the intro: make sure the reader sees what you see and
       understand where you will taking your argument. You can do this best by leading up to a
       thesis statement (or development of a statement) that includes you thoughts about the
       overall sense of the poem.
     It can be tempting to save the powerful points of your upcoming argument for the body of the
       essay itself but you should be as specific as possible in your introduction about what you are
       going to be arguing. The power will come with the support and analytical skills you
       demonstrate within the body of your commentary.

Body Paragraphs
    Your body paragraphs – the bulk of your analysis and support – should follow the pattern
      and direction established in your thesis.
    Make sure each paragraph contains an OBSERVATION (topic sentence), EVIDENCE &
      ANALYSIS (OEA).
    Make sure that each paragraph contains solid analysis which clearly explains how the
      evidence supports the observation.
    Ask yourself at the end of each paragraph “so what? Why is this important? Does this fit
      in logically with my argument (thesis)?” Use the conclusion sentence of each body paragraph
      to connect that paragraph’s argument back to your thesis statement.

Conclusion
    Don’t simply restate your thesis statement in your conclusion. Instead, use the opportunity to
      expand upon the ramifications, conclusions, and significance of the argument you have been
      making. Also, use your conclusion to take some risks and leave you reader with something to
      think about.

Comment on the Commentary
   Attach a separate paragraph that explains what you learned from your context research.
   Explain how, if at all, this context helped you interpret your poem.
   Explain why you decided this context was relevant/enlightening or why you did NOT.
PIB American Literature
Poetry Oral Commentary Requirements

Sometime during the next week, you will need to sign up for a poem you will present to the class
for your oral commentary. Once you select your poem, you are ready to begin the process of
writing and presenting a commentary on your selected poem. The following are the requirements for
the assignment:
     Your presentation should be 10-12 uninterrupted minutes. That is, you take the class
        through your poem analyzing all aspects of what the poet does to achieve his/her purpose.
     Use the “How to Structure Your Commentary” handout to organize your presentation.
     Points will be deducted for presentations that are too long or too short. FOLLOW THE
        TIME GUIDELINES!
     Read your poem at the beginning of your presentation. This is not part of the timed
        presentation, as some poems are significantly longer than others. The timing will begin
        with your analysis of the poem.
     At the end of your timed presentation, you will have three discussion questions prepared
        to get the class involved in the discussion of your poem.
     The discussion should last 15 minutes or so. This time may vary.
     After the discussion ends, the presenter will make an evaluative closing comment about
        his/her poem. How effective do you think the poet was in relaying his message? Is the
        poem a success in your opinion? What would have made it better? Etc.
     The class members will have read your poem the night before your presentation and they will
        write three questions they have about the technique, themes, devices, tone, effects of these
        devices, etc. of your poem.
     It is the presenter’s responsibility to keep a discussion going. This is part of your overall
        presentation grade.

What presenter must submit on the day of presentation:
1. An annotated copy of your poem
2. A written commentary of your poem following format of “How to Structure Your
Commentary” handout
3. Your three prepared discussion questions

What audience members must submit on the day of presentation:
1. An annotated copy of the poem presented that day
2. Three prepared discussion questions for the presented poem of the day. You will have a
calendar of presentations and it is up to you to know who will present each day.

To fully prepare you for next year, I will not accept any late assignments for these oral
commentaries. This is true for both the presenter and the audience members!

In addition, if you sign up to present, that poem and day are not negotiable. If you don’t
present the poem you chose on the assigned day, you will receive a zero on the assignment.

A final note for audience members:
If you are rude or disruptive in any way, I will deduct points from your presentation!

								
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