How to Dissect a Poem Read the title & the author. 1. What clues does it give you & why? 2. Does it say more than the words on the page? Why? 3. Could the author’s gender, age, background, or life experiences influence the poem? Why? Study the form of the poem on the page. 4. What is the shape of the poem? 5. What specifics about shape/stanzas make you notice words that are alone on a line? Is the spacing intentional? Why? 6. What about punctuation, or lack of? (Remember: Question marks – ask questions to get you thinking and answers will be in exclamation marks to incite emotion!) Sometimes ABSENCES speak louder than words. Read the poem. 7. Content – can you identify the “plot” or main idea? 8. Take a guess… what’s the purpose of the poem? Analyze the language. Cite specific examples. 9. What poetic devices are used? What do they contribute to the meaning? (be sure to identify patterns and rhythms) 10. What word choices are used? How do they contribute to the poem? 11. What questions does the poem raise? Identify the persona. 12. Is the persona (speaker) different than the author? If so, how? How do you know? If not, how do you know? 13. Are there any characters within the poem? If so, who? Assess the poem. –Each person in the group will do this on the paper being turned in. 14. Did you like it? Why or why not? 15. What does the poem say to YOU? Avoid using “I didn’t understand it” as a reason!