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Poem Explication/Oral Report (10th Grade): The Assignment

Order of Report

Order of report:


1. Pass out copies of your poem THE DAY BEFORE YOUR REPORT. Your classmates will have to read the poem and be prepared to answer any questions you pose about the form and content.


2. One of you will start with the life of the poet and his/her influence on American poetry.


3. One of you will read the poem straight through (practice and prove you can read the poem meaningfully, with the right cadence, tempo, etc.)


4. One of you will deliver your explication (do not read your essay word for word; use it as a general guide as you divide the poem into reasonable sections and explicate line by line, verse by verse)


5. Turn in your biographical report and written explication with Works Cited (source of bio; books read; articles researched)




            1.  Biography and Works Cited (25 pts)

            2.  Reading of poem (5 points)

            3.  Explication (50 points)

4.  Overall presentation (posture, eye contact, originality, animation, visual/audio aids) and organization (20 points)


Note:  For each minute over the 15-minute limit, you will lose points.

Evaluation Sheet for Oral Report


Guidelines for Oral Report/Poem Explication


Theodore Roethke (suggested poem: "The Waking")

Randall Jarrell (suggested poem: "90 Degrees North)

Richard Wilbur (suggested poem: "Advice to a Prophet")

Sylvia Plath (suggested poem: "Mirror")

Billy Collins (suggested poem: "The Art of Drowning")

Karl Shapiro (suggested poem: "Auto Wreck")

James Dickey (suggested poem: "The Lifeguard")

          As your final test grade of the year, you will choose a partner and deliver a report on a relatively recent poet.  In class we will determine partners and the poets that would best suit that pairing.




I.  One of you will choose to handle the biographical part of the report (3-5 minutes) and the other will deliver the written explication of the poem (10 minutes).  Both of you will help to explicate the poem and write the explication.


II.  Read a biographical essay on your author from a reference book in the library, and prepare some information [PowerPoint or Prezi?] that helps to bring your writer to life and to explain the world of the poem that you choose to explicate.  Check the Dictionary of Literary Biography, American Writers, or other good reference books.  If you Google your writer, insure that the website is academic in scope.  Check this LibGuide for some reputable online sources.  And you can use our databases as well to help you organize a solid presentation on the writer’s life.  Use the internet to get images or other helpful visual aids for your writer’s bio or for his/her poem.  Your PowerPoint should be exciting—do not read it from the screen!  Use good PowerPoint delivery  technique.


III.  Read the essay about and poems by your author in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry that is on reserve in the library.


IV.  Find a book of poems by your author and read 10-20 poems to get a feel for your writer’s world; then choose the poem that affects both of you the most, the one that you think will yield the best explication.


V.  Explicate your poem together; read the sample explication of Frost’s “Design” that I gave you before spring break to help you organize your written essay.  Read the sample explications on my webpage.  Do not read other explications online!  We want your view of the poem. 


VI.  Prepare your report.  Rehearse it several times to insure you can deliver your understanding of the poet’s life and the poem in 12-15 minutes.  Don’t go over time!