Defining Poetry

Grades 11-12 | Argumentative | Source-Based
Source Lexile®: NP (Non-Prose) | Learning Standards

 

 

Prompt

Read the following quotes that attempt to define poetry, constructed by poets Emily Dickinson and Ntozake Shange.

 

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know. Is there any other way?” - Emily Dickinson

 

“quite simply a poem shd fill you up with something/ cd make you swoon, stop you in yr tracks, change yr mind, or make it up, a poem shd happen to you like cold water or a kiss.” - Ntozake Shange

 

Which perception of poetry best defines poetry’s impact on readers? Write an argument in which you make a claim about whether Dickinson or Shange best captures the impact that poetry can and/or should have on readers. Use evidence from the following to support your argument:

  • the included quotes
  • your own experiences as a reader
  • words, phrases, or lines from other poems that exemplify the intended impact.

 

From The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson: By Her Niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, 1924. https://emilydickinsonmuseum.org/later_years

“Self-Interview” quoted by Alicia Ostriker in “American Poetry, Now Shaped by Women,” New York Times Book Review (March 9, 1986)

 

 

Rubric

 

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