For this assignment, you will develop 2 original poems––a free-verse poem and a closed-form poem––that employ the elements of poetry described in Chapter 1 of the Starkey text and Chapter 10 of the Sellers text. Both poems are to be full-length lyrical works and there is no established minimum word count; however, this course does not focus on haikus. Submit your 2 poems in 1 MS Word document file.
Poetry consists of a number of elements, which we discuss more fully later in the chapter: Lines and Stanzas When we write prose, the sentence is our basic unit of composition. In a poem, however, we think in terms of lines — those entities that begin on the left side of the page and end somewhere on the right. Like a line of computer code, a line of poetry contains one or more usually implicit commands on how it is to be read. (An exception to this rule — the prose poem — is covered in the “Poetic Forms” section.) Stanzas are made by grouping lines together. line A unit of poetry consisting of a word or words, usually beginning on the left side of the page and ending where the poet decides to “break” or wrap the unit, usually before the right-hand margin. stanza A grouping of poetic lines. Meter and Rhythm Meter is a regular pattern of accented and unaccented syllables. rhyme is a variable but nevertheless recognizable pattern of strong and weak elements in a poem. Because the term “rhythm” is more flexible than “meter,” we often use it when referring to free verse or experimental poetry. Even if a poem is not strictly metered, it will still have a rhythm. rhyme scheme A purposeful arrangement of rhyming words at the end of each line. meter The arrangement of words in a poem based on the relative stress of their syllables. rhyme A correspondence of sound in two or more words. The Music of Poetry Readers and listeners often comment on the “music” of a poem: the sounds that words make when coming together. The section on the music of poetry focuses on rhyme and alliteration as devices for creating musical effects in poetry. Images, Symbols, and Figurative Language Using concrete images, as opposed to abstractions, is a cornerstone of most contemporary poetry. Poetry also relies on symbols — acts, sounds, or objects that signify something other than themselves. Much of the strangeness of poetry, as opposed to everyday conversation and writing, results from the dense use of figures of speech such as metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche, personification, puns, and irony. peech such as metaphor, simile, metonymy, synecdoche, personification, puns, and irony. symbol Something concrete and specific that stands for something general and abstract. Diction, Syntax, and the Language of Poetry Diction refers to the choice of the words themselves, while syntax refers to the way that words are put together to form phrases in a sentence. Together, these two elements ultimately result in the creation of each individual poet’s “language of poetry.” syntax The arrangement of words to form phrases in a sentence. Poetic Forms One of the pleasures of writing poetry is working in the forms handed down to us from previous generations of poets. Many of these structures have strict rules that must be followed, although we will embrace a certain amount of play and experimentation in the forms we work with. In addition to the sonnet, we will look at the villanelle, the rondeau, the sestina, the cinquain, the pantoum, and the ghazal.
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