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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 (or both) 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 (or both) 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)  Note: You have to write an explication (a 2-3 page essay, though it can be rough) to turn in.




            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")

Elizabeth Bishop (suggested poem: "The Fish")

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.  Together you will research/compile, in a PowerPoint, the biography of the writer and the written explication (can be rough).  One of you might do more on the biography than the other, and vice versa, depending on how you are able to manage the challenge of working together with your busy schedules.

           You will deliver the whole report in fewer than 15 minutes.  Both of you will be standing at the podium, PowerPoint in the background, with notes/note-cards before you so that you aren’t reading the screen.  Both of you will discuss part of the bio and both of you will switch off explaining the poem. Your PowerPoint should have images and text that outline the finer points of your report.  Use good PowerPoint delivery technique by not reading the screen except to point out something relevant (such as a map or image).

           You will be evaluated on the depth of the bio, the artistry of your PowerPoint, the intensity of your explication. 

           Your PowerPoint should be at least 7 slides long, with multiple images on each slide.  You can divide the PowerPoint into sections such as:  Young Life; University Life; World War II years; Midlife, Later Life, Themes. 

II.  Read a good biographical essay on your author from a reference book in the library, and prepare some information 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 more information on the assignment and sources such as our databases 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 to get a feel for the kinds of poems your poet writes.

IV.  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. 

           In your report, you should refer to at least one other poem by the poet, a poem that fits into the biography or else serves as a good introduction or conclusion to your explication.  You can summarize the poems quickly; comparing the poems will help to give your audience a fuller view of the writer’s world.

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