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ENGLISH 1102 Course Materials: Poetry

English 1102 resources for instructors

Poems and Teaching Resources

Love and Lust

Teaching suggestions:

  • Try pairing these different perspectives on romantic relationships written in very different time periods.
  • Ask students to imagine the listener’s point of view in each poem (Who is Marvell’s speaker trying to convince, and what might be her reaction? Who is Millay’s speaker addressing, and how does it comment on Marvell’s poem?)

Cosmic Connections

Teaching suggestions:

  • Each of these poems struggle with questions about what “faith” means in the context of spiritual or human connection. Explore how the different poems represent a shift in approaches to spirituality between the Romantic and Victorian poets, and how Whitman and Dickinson chime in with their unique voices and form. How might the poems’ main ideas be influenced by the social, cultural, and industrial climate of their times?
  • Explore the use of form in these poems. Use these as a way to demonstrate the difference between traditional forms like Wordsworth’s sonnet, the common measure of Dickinson’s form, Hopkins’ curtal sonnet, and the use of meter and rhyme in Arnold’s poem, and the use of free verse in Whitman’s poem.

Anxiety and Uncertainty

Teaching Suggestions:

  • These poems contain an element of foreboding or doom, but they address that in different ways and from different perspectives. Discuss this with your students.
  • Hypothesize with your students about why poetic subjects often focus on the anxieties of the age. Read the introduction to the collection, “Poems of Anxiety and Uncertainty” from the Poetry Foundation website. Invite your students to select and write about one of the other poems in that collection, based on your class discussion of “Ozymandias” and “The Second Coming.”

Form and Voice

  • Discuss each speaker uses their voice to express their concerns.
  • Discuss how the poems create a scene for the reader.
  • Hold a dramatic monologue day!
  • Summarize the argument each character makes in each poem.
  • Let these poems talk to each other. What does McGrath’s last line say about Bishop’s poem?
  • Use these poems to talk about how a poem’s form helps reinforce the tone or content.
  • Use these poems to discuss how variation from a form is just as significant as the form itself. 

Poetry of Conflict

Teaching Suggestion:

  • Discuss the rich and complex imagery in both poems. How does each poem refute the “the old lie” Owen mentions?
  • Show a video of a Korean War Veteran reading “Facing It,” from the Favorite Poem Project 

Coming of Age

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Spend some time with Roethke by listening to audio of him reading his work here: Rothke Audio.
  • Pull from the Teaching Guide for Hayden’s poem.
  • Compare the speakers’ perspectives in the poems.

Living in America

Teaching Suggestions:

  • Discuss the use of place in poetry. How does the poet convey an idea or feeling of a place? And how does that description help us “see” the place in a new way? The discussion of urban exploration from this Poetry Foundation article may be useful.
  • Dive into either Gwendolyn Brooks or Jaamal May with a selection of their works.
  • Show the Motion Poems video of Jaamal May’s poem.
  • Pair Brooks' "We Real Cool" with Harjo's "An American Sunrise"

Let's Talk!

Want to talk more about poetry? Jessica Lindberg would love to have that conversation!

More Teaching Suggestions

Concerned about plagiarism? Want your students to grapple with their own ideas on the poems instead of rehashing Sparknotes articles?

Try studying poems from this list in class to help students get a feel for how to read/analyze poetry. Then, assign poetry essays about poems that are less studied. Here is a list of contemporary poets with great poems for student poetry essays:

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