Alex E. Blazer Course Site Syllabus
Listserv Treasure Hunt  
Exam Review Group Project Final Paper


"the poet like an acrobat . . ."

English 260C (08063-3): Introduction to Poetry

Autumn 2001, M/W: 3:30 - 5:18 PM, Denney Hall 308

Listserv Response Sign-Up

These listserv responses serve three goals:


1) to compel you to actively read these poems

2) to help your peers understand these poems even as they're reading them

3) to broach issues for class discussion


Sign up for two slots, but please make sure the poets are at least three weeks apart.  In your post, be sure to respond to the correct material.  Once you've signed up for a slot, choose one of the poems to analyze closely in your response (if the poem is incredibly short, you may respond to more).  If applicable and appropriate, attempt to focus your response on an element of poetry as presented in class.  Use the response as an opportunity to develop a preliminary interpretation of the poem as well as steer class discussion in the direction of issues you want to work with.  These papers are informal, thus need not be polished; however, they should be fully engaged with the ideas and themes of the individual poem. Conclude your response with questions for class discussion and a link to and brief description of a useful website on the poet (using the research strategies illustrated in class). You will be responsible to perform the poem (or a large chunk of it) in class.


Submit your response to the listserv, listserv-blazer@lists.acs.ohio-state.eduno later than 12PM on the the Saturday before the poet is to be discussed in class.  This is especially important for your peers and I, who base class discussion on your responses, need time to read your post.  Responses will be penalized one letter grade for each day late; responses turned in on the day the poems are to be discussed in class will receive an "E".  As this policy will be strictly enforced, I suggest submitting your response to the listserv well in advance of the deadline in order to make sure it goes through and your peers and I have the benefit of your reflection as we read the poems. Finally, because we have differing operating systems and software, please refrain from sending attachments.


For example, if you sign your name in the box beside the box containing Friedrich Hölderlin's "Voice of the People," "Chiron," "Germania, and "The Only One," your response, which you would submit to the course listserv by 12 PM Saturday, October 5, should include 1) 250 words of close reading of one of those poems, 2) 2-3 questions for class discussion, 3) a link to and brief description of an authoritative website devoted to giving interpretation and biography of Hölderlin.

Poetry Database Treasure Hunt

Using the online poetry resources exemplified in class, answer the following questions.

  1. What is the etymology of the word "poet" and to whom was the word first applied in English?
  2. Where and when was contemporary American poet Lyn Hejinian born?
  3. What 17th century English poem's first line is "'Twas on a lofty vase's side"?
  4. What (real) audio clips of contemporary American poet Bruce Andrews reading his poetry are available on the web?
  5. Where can one find a few selected poems by modern poet Allen Ginsberg online?
  6. What website features video of National Poetry Slam Y2K?
  7. What is an epithalamium?  Name a poem that exemplifies it and name a poem that parodies it.
  8. Which William Butler Yeats' poems use the word "gyre"?
  9. In what year were poets first honored on United States postage stamps?
  10. Who said, "Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun"?


  1. What is the etymology of the word "poet" and to whom was the word first applied in English?
        Use: Oxford English Dictionary
        Answer: "maker/creator"
  2. Where and when was contemporary American poet Lyn Hejinian born?
        Use: Academy of American Poets
        Answer: San Francisco Bay area
  3. What 17th century English poem's first line is "'Twas on a lofty vase's side"?
        Use: English Poetry Database
        Answer: Thomas Gray's "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes"
  4. What (real) audio clips of contemporary American poet Bruce Andrews reading his poetry are available on the web?
        Use: Electronic Poetry Corner
        Answer: "Crease"
            "Linebreak Program"
            "I Knew the Signs by Their Tents"
  5. Where can one find a few selected poems by modern poet Allen Ginsberg online?
        Use: Modern American Poetry Site (many other sites offer poetry selections as well)
  6. What website features video of National Poetry Slam Y2K?
        Use: Contemporary Poetry, Video subsection
  7. What is an epithalamium?  Name a poem that exemplifies it and name a poem that parodies it.
        Use: Contemporary Poetry, General Reference subsection,
            Glossary of Poetry Terms by Bob's Byway
        Answer: A song or poem honoring marriage.
            Spenser's "Epithalamion" exemplifies;
            Sir John Suckling's "A Ballad upon a Wedding" parodies.
  8. Which William Butler Yeats' poems use the word "gyre"?
        Use: Ohiolink language and literature databases, W. B. Yeats Collection
        Answer: "Demon and Beast," "The Second Coming," "Sailing to Byzantium" (1928), and
           "The Gyres" (1938)
  9. In what year were poets first honored on United States postage stamps?
        Use: Academy of American Poets
        Answer: 1940
  10. Who said, "Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun"?
        Use: Ohiolink Language and Literature subject databases;
        Answer: Gertrude Stein

Exam Review

Poems Covered in Class

As we covered them in class, these poems are fair game on the exam.  You are not expected to do close readings of them, but you should be able to make figural and thematic connections and distinctions among them.

Shakespeare: [Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?]
    [My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun]
Shelley: "Sonnet: Lift Not the Painted Veil"
Keats: "Ode to a Nightingale"
    [When I have fears that I may cease to be]
Browning: "My Last Duchess"
    "Meeting at Night"
    "Parting at Morning"
    "Porphyria's Lover"
Dickinson: [I heard a fly buzzwhen I died]
    [A loss of something ever felt I]
Frost: "The Road Not Taken"
    "Mending Wall"
    "After Apple-Picking"
Hughes: "The Weary Blues"
    "Mother to Son"
    "I, Too"
Eliot: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
Stein: "Objects" from Tender Buttons
Williams: "Poem"
    "This Is Just to Say"
    "The Red Wheelbarrow"
Ferlinghetti: [Constantly risking absurdity]
    [The world is a beautiful place]
    "Hidden Door"
    "Director of Alienation"
    "The Love Nut"
Plath: "Mirror"
Watten: "Statistics"
    "Complete Thought"
Kinnell: The Book of Nightmares

A New Poem

Besides showing your knowledge of poems we have discussed in class, you will also exhibit your ability to read poetry by analyzing a poem not assigned on the syllabus or for the group presentations.

Elements of Poetry: On the Exam

These terms will be on the exam in some form or another. Don't just know their definitions, be able to analyze how they function together to create the overall meaning and theme in an individual poem.

diction: word choice
    poetic diction: elevated over ordinary
    formal diction: dignified/impersonal/elevated
    middle diction: ordinary
    informal diction: colloquial/conversational/slang
denotation: dictionary definition
    connotation: personal/cultural suggestive shades of meaning
tone: attitude and mood
figures of speech: read not literally, but imaginatively
    simile: explicit comparison using like/as/than/appears/seems
    metaphor: direct/explicit comparison
        implied: by association rather than equation
        controlling/extended: directs the poem
    pun: play on words via homonym (same sound, diff meaning)
    synechdoche (sin-neck-de-key): part for whole or vice verse
        wagging tongue/behind bars/hands that wrote
    metonymy: substitution via close association: silver screen
    personification: human to nonhuman
    apostrophe: address to absent or nonhuman
    hyperbole/overstatement: exaggeration
    understatement: low key, compare w/deadpan humor
    paradox: self-contradictory and not-self contradictory
    oxymoron: two contradictory words (silent scream)
symbol: 1) literal obj itself, and 2) open/potential meanings beyond itself
    conventional: public/cultural/traditional
    literary/contextual: particular poet/poem
irony: appearance vs truth
    situational irony: expectation vs occurrence
    verbal irony: what said vs what meant (contextual cues, such as sarcastic tone)
    dramatic irony: reader knows more than character (Frasier/French farce)
    cosmic irony: God/destiny/fate vs hope/expectation

Other Elements of Poetry

Although you won't be asked specific questions about these elements of poetry on the exam because I don't want you to be overwhelmed by the technical in an intro to poetry course, you should nevertheless be aware of them when reading poetry in general. In other words, I won't specifically ask about sound, rhyme, and rhythm, but if you know enough about them, and that understandings helps you interpret the poem, use it in your response.

sound: pattern = 1) memory, 2) entertaining, 3) form/closure
    onomatopoeia: word that resembles the sound it denotes
    alliteration: repetition of same consonant sounds at the beginnings of words
    assonance: repetition of vowel sound
    consonance: repetition of consonant sound
rhyme: two or more words/phrases that repeat same sounds
    end rhyme: end of lines
    internal rhyme: within line
    masculine rhyme: single-syllable rhyme
    feminine rhyme: stressed syllable, then unstressed syllable rhyme
    exact rhyme: same
    near/off/slant/approximate: almost but not exactly
rhythm: recurrence of stressed/unstressed syllables
    affects/contributes/shapes meaning
    stress/accent: emphasis
meter: pattern of stresses
    prosody: type of meter
    scansion: measuring to determine meter
    rising meter: from unstressed to stressed
    falling meter: from stressed to unstressed
    masculine ending: line ends w/stressed syllable
    feminine ending: line ends w/unstressed syllable
    foot: smallest unit, stress + 1-2 unstressed
    iambic pentameter: five iambs
    caesura: pause in middle of line
    end-stopped line: pause at end
    run-on line/enjambment: line ends w/o pausing for next line
form: overall structure or shape
    fixed form: categorized by line/meter/rhyme/stanza
    stanza: grouping of lines
    rhyme scheme: pattern of end rhymes
    couplet: two lines of same rhyme + meter
    heroic couplet: rhymed iambic pentameter
    tercet: three-line stanza
    triplet: three-line stanza, all lines rhyme
    terza rima: interlocking three-line rhyme scheme (aba)
    quatrain: four-line stanza (aabb, abba, aaba, abcb)
    sonnet: "little song," 14 iambic pentameter lines
    Italian/Petrarchan: octave (abbaabba) + sestet (cdecde, cdcdcd, or cdccdc)
    English/Shakespearean: three quatrains + couplet (ababcdcdefefgg)
    villanelle: 19 lines, 5 tercets + concluding quatrain
        line 1 = lines 6,12,18 (aba aba aba aba aba abaa)
    sestina: 39 lines of 6, 6 line stanzas and a 3 line concluding stanza called envoy
        repeat 6 end words of stanza 1 in other stanzas
    epigram: brief, pointed, compressed witty (satire/irony/paradox) poem
    limerick: 5 anapestic lines (aabba), lines 1,2,5 = 3ft, lines 3+4 = 2ft
    elegy: lyric poem commemorating dead, mournful contemplation
    ode: serious topic + formal tone
    picture poem: arrangement of words into what describe
    parody: humorous imitation of another serious poem
open form/free verse: no established pattern;

modernity experiments because old forms constrain
    evolving/new consciousness

prose poem: condensed prose

found poem: found writing turned into poetry

Group Presentation and

Annotated Bibliography

1. Sign Up

The purpose of this sheet is to form groups.  Sign up for two slots, placing a #1 by your first choice and a #2 by your second choice.  Once groups are assigned, those groups are responsible for meeting with me outside of class to determine a poet of the movement to research.

Romanticism: William Blake

Anthony Giangregorio

Meghan Piller

Colin O'Hearn

Cynthia Sherman

Harlem Renaissance: Countee Cullen

Joanne Brickles

Audrey Torma

Matt Vanderpool

Rick Wade

Confessional poetry: Anne Sexton

Keith Davenport, Karyn Pachuta, Rob Speidel

Language Poetry: Bruce Andrews

Beth Eilerman

Andrea Smith

Lisa Sullivan

Beat Poetry (group's choice): Jack Kerouac

Amanda Mitchell

Nikki Portman

2. Goals

  1. To learn research skills such as using the web to find sources both in print and online as well as evaluating those sources.
  2. To learn how to construct a web page as well as how to compose an oral presentation enhanced by audiovisual technology.
  3. To learn (and introduce to the class) a poetic movement and a poet's place in it through reporting on scholarly research and leading the class through an analysis of exemplary poems, respectively.

3. Parameters

Annotated Bibliography Component: Researching and constructing the annotated bibliography constitutes the predominat part of the assignment.  Please include all of the following sections in your annotated bibliography that will be attached to the course website.  Beyond these elements, the design of the page is left up to you: be as creative as you wish.  Feel free to make my website look bad and boring: use pictures, audio, animation.  Have fun with it!


Due: All web page materials are due either via email attachment to or disk Monday, November by 10 AM.

Research Topic

Give the broad concept or issue that you’ll be investigating.
Research Question
Contextualize what you already know, based upon class discussion, and pose a question or two that has guided your research.
Search Strategy
Recapitulate where and how you went about your search for sources.  A few words to the wise about obtaining print sources: 1) Don’t put this off until the last minute.  You should request and check out materials from libraries a full two weeks before the assignment is due.  “The books are in transit” or “The books were checked out” does not constitute a valid excuse for a bibliography lacking 10 sources.  2) Note that OSCAR will tell you if OSU owns a particular journal, but it can’t search for journal articles.  Consequently, on OSU Libraries home page, before entering OSCAR, search Other Online Research Tools a) OSU’s collection of “electronic journals” (this is very limited, but it can’t hurt to try), b) “other databases by subject” page (there’s a listing of numerous databases like Language and Literature, and Psychology, which will link you to MLA Bibliography and a psychology journal search engine.  (You’ll get some of the same databases with which Gateway interfaces, some with which Gateway doesn’t), and 3) finally Gateway, which searches 92 databases.  4) Once you have a critical article or book, check its works cited and reference pages for other books that might help your research.  If you come up empty handed after trying OSCAR, the appropriate “databases by subject,” Gateway, and works cited pages of articles/books you've already found, ask a librarian for help!  Feel free to use Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, but note they are a public library system and your search will need to be augmented by an academic library like OSU.  A few words to the wise about web sources: search the university and organizational websites first (Jack Lynch's page and Internet Public Library, for example) in order to find specialized, scholarly sites, then move on to regular search engines.
Summary of Findings
In 250 words, summarize the different critical interpretations of the subject-matter, describe where critics converge and diverge, and criticize the lines of argument.  Compare and contrast the usefulness and informativeness of web versus print sources.
20 secondary sources
    at least half must be scholarly journal articles and books (or book chapters)
    no more than half may be websites
    sorry—no encyclopedias, magazines, newspapers, primary texts; also, no critical articles and
        websites used in class already
    alphabetically arranged according to MLA standards
    with annotations of 75-100 words each that evaluate the sources by:
Problem (Question)
Identify what’s at stake or the issue or question that the source is investigating.
Method (Evidence)
Describe how the author supports her argument, for instance with logical claims and assumptions and/or with examples, facts, and statistics.
Proposition (Thesis)
Define the source’s thesis, or sub-thesis relevant to your research question, its contribution to the critical discourse, and/or how it will help your paper; note that his can be combined with the ‘problem’ section.

Group Presentation Component: In the first part of the assignment, groups will present their findings about the poetry movement to the class.  I suggest speaking from the summary of findings in order to gloss what interpretations exist out there.  Also, highlight and develop notes on the best of the best print sources.  Feel free to guide the class through the most pertinent web sites.  In the second part, groups will show how an individual poet fits into the poetry movement through reporting on critical arguments and offering their own intepretation of an exemplary poem or two.  Generally speaking, highlight the best of what you found, and put your interpretation on it.  Be as creative as you wish.  Keep in mind that you have use of the computer projector and all software the Mac classroom has to offer (i.e., you may choose to compose a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation with all of the audiovisuals and sounds it entails).  Presentations should last 15-20 minutes.


Due: Groups will present on Monday, November 19, Monday, November 26, and Wednesday, November 28.

4. A Final Note

Both the annotated bibliography and the group presentation should move beyond mere description and reporting.  Instead, both should be driven by critical analysis and thesis-oriented interpretation.

5. Examples

Here are two examples from 367.02 course (note: they weren't composed for a computer section) on Edward Albee and Margaret Atwood.  Here are examples done for a 261C course.  These samples had slightly different criteria for the assignment, but they should help get you started.

Final Paper

There are two options for the final paper, due Wednesday, November 28 at the beginning of class.


Option 1: A critical essay, at least 2000 words long and conforming to MLA format conventions, which examines a common theme or thread among 3-4 poems by one poet. In other words, delve into the poet's worldview regarding a particular thought-feeling, using various relevant elements of poetry to analyze how that idea is rendered. Explore, for instance, how her poetic style and tone, how her primary images and metaphors convey that common theme. These poems CANNOT be poems listed on the syllabus or listserv signup, but they CAN be other poems by a poet we've read in class, poems by a poet who has been researched and presented on by a group, or a poet outside of the class reading list, subject to my approval. You must provide a copy of the poems unless you've checked with me and know I have them.


Option 2: An original poem (to be performed for the class on Wednesday, November 28) and critical self-assessment. The original poem should respond to the ideas and feelings, the primary style and imagination, in other words the worldview and the poetic psyche, of your favorite poet, the poet who has most influenced your understanding of yourself and your world. The critical self-assessment, of no less than 1250 words, should combine first an explanation of your understanding of the poet and second your artist statement explaining the ideas, feelings, and/or form you were attempting to convey in your poem, especially how they respond to your favorite poet's work. In other words, analyze your poetic process in terms of feeling and the elements of poetry utilized to render that feeling. You must turn in exemplary poems of the poet you're responding to unless you've verified with me that I have them.