LITR 5731 Seminar in Multicultural Literature: American Minority

Poetry Reader /

Discussion Leader

Length: 8-12 minutes for presentation (depending on length of poem); discussion may continue indefinitely




  • Announce author, title, date, basic info on author's life, place in history or course


  • Don't attempt complete coverage of poem's every possibility.

  • Don't focus on the author's biography or force the text to conform to external facts.

  • Don't spend too much time on anything before reading the poem.


  • Distribute paper copies of poem or use web projector

(presentation & "performance")

order may change


  • Identify idea, theme, problem, issue, or literary feature in the poem.

  • Briefly relate to a course objective or to other readings (poems or main texts)

  • Read poem aloud

    • practice pronunciations, know terms (don't stop to ask; communicate before)

  • Highlight 2-3 passages, connect to interpretation


  • Don't read the poem flatly or haltingly--make it sing! give it rhythm! make it matter!

  • Don't talk too long after reading the poem--students are ready to discuss immediately but lose focus quickly if presenter keeps on.




  • Ask a question to start discussion. Question should follow from your interpretation or appeal more broadly to challenges in the text or intertexts with other class readings.

  • Lead discussion. You may follow up or re-start discussion with follow-up questions as prepared.

  • Conclude discussion by highlighting major points from discussion + relation to course objective


  • Panic if students don't respond. Keep asking questions or refocusing on passages in text.


  • Posting or Summary for Web Page--email ahead of time to instructor for posting, or bring file on thumb drive.

Single biggest aid to a good discussion: Start discussion as soon as possible after reading the poem. After hearing and sharing the poem, the class is ready to jump in and discuss. Usually the only discussions that "die" are the ones where the students have to wait too long to start talking.