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Annotating Poetry

Page history last edited by Brian Croxall 12 years ago

Annotating Poetry


Annotation requires close attention to the various aspects that make up a poem – language, form, historical and literary context, structure, speaker, theme, etc. These are the individual elements we will be focusing on throughout the semester. The annotation exercise will allow you to put that work to use.


  1. Read the poem through several times.
  2. Underline, circle, or otherwise note words and phrases that jump out at you for any reason – their sound or rhythm or because their use interests or confuses you, etc.
  3. Then, return back and identify one of these moments to annotate. Your annotation should identify the aspect of the poem that you find interesting and then you should explain, clarify, or elucidate why this is interesting and, more importantly, how it affects your understanding and interpretation of the poem as a whole. For example, you might look at the way the poet enjambs a particular line and discuss how the multiple meanings one can get from reading the line with two different stopping points.
  4. Your annotation should be a short paragraph. To be more specific, it should be approximately five sentences. I expect you to make a concrete addition to our understanding of the poem.
  5. Add your annotation to the poem in the wiki using footnotes. Make sure you include your name at the end of the annotation so I know who to give credit to.

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