Works Cited: Common Questions Explained

(This post originally appeared Nov. 2013)

Below we’ve compiled a list of the most common student questions related to Works Cited pages, and attempted to clarify what many students find to be the most complicated and perplexing part of the research writing process.

Q  Where do I put the URL in the Works Cited entry?

A  The newest guidelines from the 7th edition of the MLA (Modern Language Association) Handbook have removed the URL from web sources. Now writers will include the medium of publication. For web sources you would simply add “Web” at the end of the entry in place of the URL. Book and other types of print medium, such as newspapers or journals, will add “Print.” Other common sources may be Film or DVD. However, ALWAYS follow instructor guidelines, as many still require the inclusion of URLs.

My source doesn’t have an author. Should I list it as “Anonymous”?

It’s actually quite common for web sources not to list an author. If the author of the source is unknown, list the source by the first word in the title, disregarding A, An, or The. So as you alphabetize the entries, you would alphabetize by the first word in the title. If the title is more than a few words, use a shortened version of the title in the in-text citation.

My instructor says I need to use a “hanging indent” on my Works Cited page.  What exactly is a hanging indent?

A hanging indent is exactly the opposite of a traditional indent. Instead of indenting the first line, with all subsequent lines flush left, the first line of the entry will be flush left, with all subsequent lines indented, regardless of number. The reason for a hanging indent on a Works Cited page is so a reader can easily find the source’s name or title while scanning the Works Cited page.

To easily format for a hanging indent in MS Word, under the “Home” tab, click on the “Paragraph” arrow to open; on the right of the box, you should see “Special” with “none” as the default. Click the arrow beside “none” and “Hanging” should be the last item. If you format the hanging indent before you enter your sources, it will automatically create a hanging indent for each entry.

Q  I have several quotes by the same author but from different texts. How do I account for this on my Works Cited?

When conducting research, it’s common to find several different articles by the same expert. On your Works Cited, give the author’s name in the first entry only. Every entry after the first one with the full name, type three hyphens, which stand for the name in the preceding entry.  The three hyphens, like the name, will be followed by a period. Alphabetize all entries by title.

I placed quotation marks around the title of the book I referenced, but the instructor said it should be italicized. I then italicized the title of a journal article, but was told that’s incorrect too! Which is it?

This is one of the most confusing rules for most students. If you can just remember that small works – for instance, chapter titles in anthologies – are placed in quotation marks; larger works – like a book or journal – are italicized. So, for instance, the article, “Five Fallacies of Education,” will be in quotation marks, and the journal, Harvard Review will be in italics. A newspaper article will be in quotation marks, and the name of the newspaper italicized. It gets more complicated with websites, but just remember the smaller work is placed in quotations and the larger work in italics.

Other directives from the MLA Handbook:

Italics: books, plays, poems published as books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, journals, web sites, online databases, films, television and radio broadcasts, CDs, albums.

Quotation Marks: articles, essays, stories or poems published within larger works, book chapters, pages in web sites, and individual episodes of television and radio broadcasts.

 (for a complete list, see MLA Handbook for writers of Research Papers 7th Edition)

My instructor said it was okay to interview my supervisor as one of my sources. How would I cite my interview?

If you have conducted the interview, begin the entry with the name of the person you have interviewed, the kind of interview, whether it was a Personal interview, Telephone interview, or E-mail interview, and conclude with the date the interview took place.

Ex.:     Karr, John. Personal interview. 14 Oct. 2013.

Final Thoughts

Students often find Works Cited pages to be extremely overwhelming to understand.  Your handbook or Purdue Owl’s website are great resources to utilize as you work through the process. All you need to know is the type of medium you are using, so make sure you have identified the type of source correctly, whether it be a print journal, web site, or library database. It’s always best to compile your Works Cited manually, meaning avoid the automatic citation help in MS Word and NoodleTools Express, which will incorrectly format an entry if the writer fails to insert the correct information.

One last piece of advice: It’s much  easier to compile the Works Cited page as you go, as opposed to waiting until the paper is finished.  Creating the source list as you go will save time in the end, and you’ll have the citation right in front of you for the in-text citations.

To view a sample paper with a Works Cited page, visit Purdue Owl here:  MLA Sample Paper.

Pesky Prepositions

(This post originally appeared Jan. 2014)

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Prepositions are important structural words that create a relationship between a noun or pronoun and another part of a sentence, expressing a relationship between time, space, and other senses. Prepositions are one of those parts of speech that garner little attention, but can cause all sorts of trouble, especially for English language learners.  We say we are at a café to visit a friend who was in the hospital. We watch a show on TV but at a movie theater. They sit on the couch, while he sits in the chair, but she lies in bed!

Below is a list of some of the most commonly used prepositions:

about, above, after, against, along, among, around, as, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond, by, down, despite, during, except, for, from, in, inside, into, near, of, off, on, onto, out, over, past, since, through, to, toward, under, until, up, upon, with, without.

What makes prepositions so confusing is that many prepositions have a wide range of meaning, depending on how they are used in a sentence. Note in the following example how English uses in and on:

The apples are in the bowl.
The apples are on the table.
I spilled apple juice on my dress.

Many languages don’t use prepositions at all, and some languages, such as Spanish, would use the same preposition (en) in all of the previous examples.

I learned to remember space-related prepositions by thinking about what a squirrel can do to a tree. A squirrel can go
around a tree
behind a tree.
below a tree.
beneath a tree.
in a tree.
onto a tree.
over a tree.
toward a tree.
up a tree.
under a tree.

In the squirrel examples above, the preposition shows the relationship between the squirrel and the tree (object of the preposition).

The squirrel prepositions are, as noted, space-related prepositions, as they show the object (tree) in relation to space. Prepositions can relate to time, place, and movement.

Prepositions for Time:

In                     In January, 1978, the Midwest suffered a terrible blizzard.

On                   On Monday, we’ll begin a new unit.

At                    At midnight, the ball will drop in Times Square.

For                  He waiting in line for two hours.

Since             I haven’t been back home since 2008.

When referring to a month or year, we don’t use “on,” unless the specific day is given:

On January 21, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Prepositions for Place

In                     We were riding in the car.

On                   Leave the book on the table.

At                    She is waiting at the entrance.
You could also ride on a car, but that means you would literally be on the outside of the car:
The beauty queen rode on the car [in the parade].

You could leave the book in the table, if you are placing it inside a drawer:
Leave the book in the table[’s drawer].

You could be waiting in the entrance, which would mean you are inside:
She is waiting in the [theater’s main] entrance.


Prepositions for Movement

To                   He went to the movie. OR
He came from the movie.

Into                 She stepped into the bathtub. OR
She stepped out of the bathtub.

Toward         The baby crawled toward his mother. OR
The baby crawled away from his mother.

One of the most common problems with prepositions occurs when prepositional phrases are strung together to create an overly complicated sentence:

It is a matter of the gravest possible importance to the health of anyone with a history of a problem with disease of the heart that he or she should avoid the sort of foods with a high percentage of saturated fats (from writing.wisc.edu).

Too many prepositional phrases create plodding prose and a confusing sentence. Can you identify the subject and verb in the previous sentence? I’m not sure I can!

Revised: People with heart problems should avoid high fat foods.

The subject (people) and verb (should avoid) are much clearer in the revised example. The best writing is concise writing, and prepositional phrases often are crutches we lean on a bit too heavily that create wordiness and confusion.

Placement of Prepositions

You probably learned in high school that you shouldn’t end a sentence with a preposition. This is one of those grammar rules that cause disagreement among grammarians. It’s not always so easy to rearrange the concluding preposition to another place in the sentence. Try rewording the following sentences to move the concluding preposition:

1)    The dress had not been paid for.

2)    Tell him he is taking too much on.

3)    We are such stuff as dreams are made of. (William Shakespeare)

4)    All words are pegs to hang ideas on. (Henry Ward Beecher)

5)    That is nonsense up with which I shall not put. (Winston Churchill)

As you can see, even some of our great writers break the rule. Consider this rule a writer’s choice. Whether one considers it right or wrong is a debate we won’t go into. (!)

This is only a tiny bit of all there is to know about prepositions and their uses. As you can see, it takes patience and practice.

Practice!
Fill-in each sentence with a preposition from the list.

Along; down; across; beyond; underneath; after; against

1. I looked ______________________ the hill at the many houses below.

2. Make sure to check ______________________ your bed for your shoes.

3. __________________ we go to the movies, we will go eat at a restaurant.

4. I leaned ______________________ the side of the wall.

5. Can you walk ______________________ with me as we go shopping?

6. If you look ______________________ those trees, you will see a cabin.

7. We will walk _______________________ the street when it is safe. (from englishlinx.com)

Some examples from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/prepositions.htm

Organizing your Narrative Essay

(This post originally appeared June, 2013).

There are many ways to organize a narrative essay. No real rules or formulaic outlines exist, which appeals to many writers. This can also cause a lot of frustration for the writer who is used to rules and outlines. The flexibility of form of the narrative essay gives the writer the freedom to tell his or her story as creatively as he or she chooses. What we suggest here are only general guidelines. As you compose your essay, consider the story you want to tell and which form works best to communicate that event.

Ingredients

What goes into a narrative? Traditionally, if you are going to retell an event, you’ll need to include three elements: Scene, Summary, and Reflection.

Scene is action. People are talking (dialogue); you or other people are moving or reacting to something.

Summary is exposition. It is condensing time (making a long stretch of time shorter) or conflating time (making a short stretch of time longer for dramatic effect). Summary can be history and background, filling in the blanks for the reader.

Reflection is your – the narrator’s – thoughts. What did you think or feel as the action was happening? What do you think or feel now? How have you made sense of what happened? This is reflection.

These three elements do not necessarily have to be in equal increments. This is a writer’s creative choice on how much the writer feels is necessary to fully communicate his or her story.

The Intro

Literature is filled great “hooks” or opening lines: “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Anna Karenina

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. . .” A Tale of Two Cities

Call me Ishmael.” Moby Dick

And this line, probably the most famous (and now most clichéd): “It was a dark and stormy night.”  Paul Clifford

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Composing an engaging hook, or opening line, is essential to immediately draw your readers into your story. Without a strong intro, a reader may disengage and not continue reading, so spend some time on your intro and hook your readers before moving on.

Organization

You’ve hooked your reader, so now where do you go? Chronological organization, or retelling your story in the order events happened in real life, is one way. However, beginning writers often get stuck spinning their wheels, or spending too much time setting up a story with inconsequential exposition, which runs the risk of losing your readers.

Beginning in the Middle

Consider taking your story out of chronological order, and begin in medias res, Latin for in the midst of things. In an in medias res narrative, the story opens in the middle of the actual chronology of events, usually with dramatic action rather than exposition setting up the narrative. The story begins in the middle, moves forward from there, with the past told in flashbacks. An in media res intro works well to hook the reader, as the dramatic action begins immediately.

Story Structure

Once you begin composing your narrative and you’ve decided on how you are going to organize your event, you’ll now need to put it all into paragraph structure. Narrative essays don’t have the type of topic sentences that an academic paper has or obvious signals on when to begin a new paragraph.

Obvious paragraph breaks will be when speakers change: new speaker = new paragraph. Other breaks may not be so obvious. Think in terms of the action, and structure the paragraphs around the action. Generally, narrative paragraphs change when something in the action changes:

Introduction of new people
Location or setting changes
Time passes or era changes
Action changes
Mode changes (action changes to reflection, reflection changes to exposition)

Climactic Moment

For a narrative event essay, you’ll probably be asked to consider the narrative arc, or the climatic sequence of events. When you decided on what event to retell, you most likely thought of the “climax,” the high point of excitement or the turning point of the event or experience. But to retell this event and to get to the climax, you’ll also include rising action (events before the climax) and falling action (events after the climax). Many writers find it easier to work backward, or write out the climax and work up to that point. It doesn’t really matter how you get there, just that you get there.

Narrative Arcs aren’t necessarily a perfect arc

Even in the shortest narrative event essays, you’ll need to include the basic elements of plot to complete your narrative arc:

  1. Exposition
  2. Rising Action
  3. Climax
  4. Falling Action
  5. Resolution

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(Denouement is a French term meaning resolution)

However, don’t assume that because the “climax” falls in the middle . . . that it falls in the middle.

The climax to a narrative can often be closest to the conclusion of the essay, followed by a brief resolution or denouement.


Conclusions

Many writers find the conclusion, or resolution, to be the most difficult part of the narrative to write well. Try to avoid the inclination to overwrite the conclusion. The central meaning, or universal theme, should be apparent in the narrative. If you have to tell the reader what it all means in the end, you might need to go back and expand the narrative so readers can derive meaning as they see the story unfold.

As you can see, writing a narrative essay is no easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy writing assignment. It takes a lot of thought and planning.

On the other hand, don’t over-analyze how you should organize your narrative so much that you get analysis paralysis. Sometimes, just sitting down and writing as if you were simply jotting down a diary entry of a memorable event will open the creative channels from which your story will effortlessly flow.

Not likely, but that’s what revision is for.  

 

Resume Help for New Graduates

While we’re on summer break, we’ll occasionally share some blogs from other writers.

For a great article on writing a resume when you’re a fresh out of college, click here to read “How to Write a Resume When You’re Just Out of College” by Susan Adams from Forbes.com. She offers some insightful information on how to list your education and experience to catch the eye of employers.

 

Brainstorm Your Way to a Great Essay

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(A version of this post originally appeared Dec. 6, 2013)

 

For many writers, beginning and experienced, simply finding a topic to write about is the most difficult part of the writing process. Utilizing some simple invention or brainstorming tools will set you on your way to uncovering an engaging topic, one audiences will be interested in reading, and you will be excited writing about for the next several weeks.  

Brainstorming

This catch-all term is thrown around quite often in the writing classroom. An instructor will ask you to spend some time “brainstorming” before you begin the writing process, but for many, this request just draws a blank. How exactly does one brainstorm?

1.  Take a piece of paper, and list numbers 1-20.
2.  To begin filling in this list, write down what interests you. If you draw a blank, consider what has been going on in your life lately – conversations you have had, or things you have read or heard on the news – and jot them down on your list.

If this seems too overwhelming, try categorizing your list into groups of 5.

Create one list of 5 labeled POLITICS (this could include current legislation that might affect you or your community; concealed weapons; mandatory military service; electoral system, etc.)

Create one list of 5 SOCIAL ISSUES (this might include healthcare, deforestation, sharing wealth, etc.)

Create one list of 5 CULTURAL ISSUES (this might include language reform, religious freedom, polygamy, etc.)

Create a list of 5 COMMUNITY ISSUES (this might include things that affect you where you work and live, such as parking, recycling, dorms on campus, A-F grade system, etc.)

Once you break it down into manageable chunks, it’s much easier to uncover some interesting and unique topics from current issues. Let’s look at our examples from above. One way to decide if a topic will make a good persuasive paper is to ask a “should” question based on the topic. Let’s look at some of the issues from our examples and put them into a “should” question:

  •   Should the government require mandatory military service?
  •   Should the government alter the tax system to force the rich to share their wealth with the poor?
  •   Should elementary schools require students to learn a second language?
  •   Should colleges and universities abolish the A-F grade scale and GPA system?

Digging Deeper: What do you already know about?

Another way to identify topics you might be interested in writing about is to consider your own knowledge and expertise. Everyone is knowledgeable about something, and many of us are knowledgeable about several things. What topics are you an authority on? Don’t sell yourself short.  A list might include:

  1.     Unique hobbies (spelunking, metal detecting, dumpster diving)
  2.     Unique skills (second language, yoga master, cartoonist)
  3.     Training or education (CPR, computer tech, sign language)
  4.     Work Experience (manager, bartender, crisis counselor)
  5.     Personal Experience (single parent, foster parent, football coach, nurse aide)

Now that you have a good list of hobbies, skills, and other knowledge and experience, consider how you can pull a topic out of those lists to compose an interesting essay. Some topics would make great informational essays, while others would make great persuasive essays.

  •   To reduce waste and our reliance on landfills, dumpster diving, or reusing or repurposing someone else’s trash, is a viable alternative.
  •   Yoga has been proven to not only improve balance, lower blood pressure, and fight disease, but can also relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  •   Training in CPR should be mandatory for all public school teachers.
  •   Bartenders should/should not be held liable for the accidental injury or death of a person by someone they served who was found to be intoxicated.
  •   Same sex couples should/should not be allowed to become foster parents.
     

Taking time in the early stages of the writing process to brainstorm will lead you to unique and engaging topics for your paper. No one wants to write another “Legalize Marijuana” or “Lower Drinking Age” essay like they did for their high school teacher, and I promise instructors don’t want to read another one either. Uncovering topics you wouldn’t normally consider or even think about will earn you the admiration of your instructor, and you’ll enjoy the research process more as well.

STUDENTS: Share your unique topic ideas with us. How did you uncover your topic?

Write on!

Which or That? All About Relative Pronouns

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Albert Einstein

 

First, let’s identify exactly what a relative pronoun is. In English, there are 3 main relative pronouns common in speech and writing: who, which, and that.

That is by far the most commonly used relative pronoun in speech as well as writing. However, that is also one of the most misused and overused words in writing. That is considered more colloquial or informal than which, and when we use a word in conversation, we automatically insert the more commonly used word in writing. Which is a more formal relative pronoun often used in academic writing, and less often used in day-to-day speech.

When to use each is influenced by a number of factors, but in general, that is used with restrictive relative clauses, while which is used with both restrictive and non-restrictive clauses. Who is a personal pronoun used when referring to a person. Inserting that when who should be used when referring to a person is one of the most common errors related to relative pronoun use, though many writers and even instructors believe it to be more of a judgment call. However, one must know the rule first before breaking it.

It’s usually easy to distinguish when to use who (or whom, whose). In the examples below, the relative pronoun who always refers to a person or people:

The woman who painted the portrait is waiting in the lobby.

The playoffs were great for the fans, whose support never wavered.

The chef, who has a new cookbook, is on the Morning Show tomorrow.

The use of that and which is a bit more complicated, and often simply a matter of preference. That is considered a general use restrictive relative pronoun. The term “restrictive” means that the clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence, as it limits, or restricts, the noun or thing it refers to.

The truck that I want is too expensive.

In the previous sentence, the clause “that I want,” further defines the noun clause, “The truck”; it limits which truck the speaker is referring to.

The boots that are red leather are the only ones I want.

In this example, we wouldn’t know which boots the speaker is referring to without the clause “that are red leather.”

So when considering restrictive relative pronouns, if the clause “restricts” or limits the meaning of preceding noun clause, it is a restrictive relative pronoun.

The previous examples show that used with inanimate nouns, but that can also be used with animate (living/human) nouns, and are considered flexible:

She is the girl that lives down the road.

He is one of the boys that always wants to play soccer at recess.


Review
: Both of the previous examples are restrictive clauses, meaning the relative clause (that. . ._)  limits the meaning of the preceding noun clause by offering identifying information for “she” and “he.”

A non-restrictive clause is considered “non-essential”; this means that the relative clause offers additional information that the reader doesn’t really need to identify the subject. It’s info that’s nice to have, but not necessary to identify the subject of the noun clause.

Ernest Hemingway, who wrote The Sun Also Rises, is considered a minimalist writer.

He looked into her files, which she never locked.

The airline, which added flights to Omaha, is seeing an increase in passengers.

Each of the noun subjects do not need the additional clause to identify who or what they are. If you lift out the italicized clause, the sentence’s meaning is retained:

Ernest Hemingway is considered a minimalist writer.

He looked into her files.

The airline is seeing an increase in passengers.

In speech, you might notice that the use of “that” as a relative pronoun is by far more common than “which.” However, in written or academic prose, “which” is much more common. So how do you know when to use each?

If removing the words would change the meaning of the sentence, use that.

If removing the words would not change the meaning of the sentence, use which.

Let’s look at the following examples:

Trucks that have hybrid technology are gaining popularity.

If you ask yourself, do all trucks have hybrid technology? the answer would be no. So we need to have that have hybrid technology to know which trucks we’re talking about. In this case, “that” is the correct relative pronoun.

I signed the contract, which was sent certified mail.

The non-restrictive clause, which was sent certified mail, isn’t limiting the noun clause or identifying it in any way. It’s simply offering the reader some extra, interesting information. In this case, “which” is the correct relative pronoun.

 

Review

If you’re not sure when to use that, which or who, follow these guidelines and you’ll be right most of the time:

Who = (whom, whose) refers to a person or people.

That = Introduces a restrictive clause.

Which = Introduces a non-restrictive clause offering extra information. You can omit the “which” clause with no harm done.

 

 

 

 

Writing About Poetry

 

 

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Writing a poetry analysis is one of the most dreaded assignments for students. Poetry is often intimidating to the untrained reader and it often takes time and practice to learn how to critically analyze a poem. Once you understand some of the basic principles of literary analysis and learn some simple poetry vocabulary, writing poetry analysis won’t be so daunting.

First, let’s review some vocabulary that we’ll be using –

Basic Vocabulary

Below are some basic poetic devices that are commonly used in analysis. Some you may be familiar with:

Simile: Comparison using like or as.

Metaphor: a direct comparison.

Tone: the emotion that the speaker uses when he/she talks

Personification: human qualities attributed to non-human objects

Imagery: A way to create pictures with words, often using sensory detail

Alliteration: Repetition of the same consonant sound

Assonance: Repetition of the same vowels sound

Stanza: A grouped set of lines in a poem

 

Now that you’ve learned some simple vocabulary, let’s look at some ways you might analyze a poem.

Title

The first thing you read is obviously the title. This is your first clue as to what the poem might be about. The title often reflects the subject of the poem, so come back to the title after you’ve read the poem to analyze the connection to the content.

Close Reading

To begin, it’s important to read the poem several times, at least 3. Each time you read a poem, you might find something different you didn’t notice from previous readings. Try reading it aloud. Take note of words you are not familiar with so you can look them up later. Circle nouns or phrases that stick out to you.

Who is the Speaker?

Don’t confuse the speaker or narrator of the poem with the writer. The voice could be that of the writer, expressing thoughts or feelings, but not necessarily.

The speaker of the poem may be an old man, but the person who wrote the poem might be a twenty-year-old. Is the speaker a man or woman? Is he or she addressing someone in particular? Is there more than one speaker? What is the speaker’s mood? Angry? Cynical? Happy? If you can easily pinpoint the mood, how did you know?

Do you have any clues as to the main idea the speaker wants to communicate?

What is the Subject?

The title might be the first clue to the subject of the poem. If you’re still confused, ask yourself simply, “What is the poem about?”

You could uncover clues to the subject by the speaker’s tone. What is the speaker’s attitude about the subject? Angry? Hurt? Resentful? Sad? Scared? Joyful?

What is the Situation?

Is there an event in the poem the speaker is reflecting on? Or is the speaker simply discussing a memory? The weather? A long lost love?

Often, but not always, a poem tells a story. Did something happen? Does the speaker want something to happen? Why is the speaker talking about this?

Structure

How is the poem organized or divided up? You might be familiar with traditional stanzas, or several groups of 4 or 5 lines each, but there are as many different ways to organize a poem as there are poets. A poem might have numbered stanzas, or each stanza line may have no end punctuation and flow into the next stanza.

Poems are a unified piece of writing, and for the most part, don’t jump in topic from stanza to stanza, but are usually connected in meaning. You might see some kind of link in emotions, ideas, or images, a common thread that runs through each stanza. Do you notice any common thread?

If there are no stanza divisions, try looking at the poem line by line or sentence by sentence. Do you notice any patterns of repeated words or images?

Theme

The theme is the central idea of the poem, and often the theme conveys the poem’s message. As you put all of these ideas together, what does the poem mean as a whole? What do you think is the “take away” or the big “so what?” of the poem?

Language and Imagery

The conclusions you draw about the poem will come from the language and imagery of the poem. So it is imperative to understand the denotative meaning, as well as the connotative meaning of the words.

Denotative Meaning: This is the literal, or dictionary definition of a word.

Connotative Meaning: This is the emotional or associative meaning of a word. For instance, a snake is often associated with evil. Hollywood is associated with glamour. Blue birds are associated with happiness. The color white or a cross is associated with goodness or holiness.

Poets rely on language and imagery to convey meaning. Understanding the denotative and connotative meaning in language is important to understand the meaning of a poem.

Final Thoughts

This is only the tip of the tip of the poetic iceberg on how one might analyze poetry. Once you learn a few simple terms, you’ll find there are dictionaries devoted to poetic vocabulary. One good resource can be found on the Poetry Foundation’s website, who has a large glossary of terms, found here. Another good source is Poets.org.

Writing about poetry can be demanding, but learning a few simple terms and strategies will hopefully take the fear out of your next poetry analysis.

Practice!

Considering the questions above, analyze the following poems-

Tattoo by Ted Kooser

What once was meant to be a statement—
a dripping dagger held in the fist
of a shuddering heart—is now just a bruise
on a bony old shoulder, the spot
where vanity once punched him hard
and the ache lingered on. He looks like
someone you had to reckon with,
strong as a stallion, fast and ornery,
but on this chilly morning, as he walks
between the tables at a yard sale
with the sleeves of his tight black T-shirt
rolled up to show us who he was,
he is only another old man, picking up
broken tools and putting them back,
his heart gone soft and blue with stories.

 

 

Kin by Maya Angelou

We were entwined in red rings
Of blood and loneliness before
The first snows fell
Before muddy rivers seeded clouds
Above a virgin forest, and
Men ran naked, blue and black
Skinned into the warm embraces
Of Sheba, Eve and Lilith.
I was your sister.

You left me to force strangers
Into brother molds, exacting
Taxations they never
Owed or could ever pay.
You fought to die, thinking
In destruction lies the seed
Of birth. You may be right.
I will remember silent walks in
Southern woods and long talks
In low voices
Shielding meaning from the big ears
Of overcurious adults.
You may be right.
Your slow return from
Regions of terror and bloody
Screams, races my heart.
I hear again the laughter
Of children and see fireflies
Bursting tiny explosions in
An Arkansas twilight.