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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