Craig White's Literature Courses

Critical Sources

poetry training
pre-AP/AP English vertical team
North Shore Senior High
Friday, 28
October 2011

Craig White's coursesite:

College Board Suggestions for Studying Poetry [with commentary]

6th 12th Poetry TEKS [w/ comments]

A presentation on poetry in 4 parts  (Terms)

Introduction: purpose of art to entertain and instruct; what is beyond testing and what isn't.

1. Paradox of poetry: strange but familiar: make or reinforce positive associations


Emily Dickinson, Dare you see a soul at the white heat? (Devon)

meet your students (or audience) where they are

Poetry is exotic but also intimate or familiar:

Dickinson, Im Nobody (Devon)

Cullen, Yet Do I Marvel (Julie)

Cullen, For a Poet (Julie)

[discuss: how do you keep poetry's attractive strangeness while making it familiar or acceptable?]

2. Not what poetry means but how it means

Not "what the poem is trying to say"--if the poet had wanted something as simple as a prose paraphrase, the poet would have written prose.   (line of poem = sentence of prose; stanzas = paragraphs)

Instead, how the poem says more than mere prose can say. 

College Board Suggestions for Studying Poetry [with commentary]

6th 12th Poetry TEKS [w/ comments]

Student poem (Liz)

[discuss: Which techniques or terms to prioritize? What are students ready or inclined to learn?]

Dr. Kings speech / anaphora

3. formal verse and free verse

Poetry not merely sensible (like prose) but sensory

Poetry works through sound (aural pleasure and order) and sight (visual images and meaning)

formal verse

free verse


4. Speak poetry > Make poetry

Writing poetry teaches poetry.

Today's exercises in generating poetry: low stakes and group-oriented

Each of you will control 2 sheets of paper on which you will start 2 poems1 fixed verse, 1 free verse

At least 3 neighbors will write additional lines to the poems you start.


Fixed / Formal Verse Exercise

Free Verse Exercise


Outcomes: We'll look at a few sets of lines on the projector and identify techniques.


Possible extended outcomes: Use the lines as a base for development or production.

If you assign your students to write a poem, this exercise would succeed in getting some lines down on paper, which they could accept, reject, or revise.

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