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ENGL 151 - Miller -- Poetry Research  

Last Updated: Mar 9, 2017 URL: Print Guide

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Spring Semester Hours 2016:
Mon-Thurs:       8:00 AM - 8:00 PM
Fri:                      8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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Spring Semester Hours 2016:
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Wed, Thurs:    8:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Fri:                    Closed
Weekends:     Closed


Walt Whitman

Marianne Moore

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Langston Hughes


About the Library Session

The library session and this research guide are designed to help you:

  • Identify appropriate library/research sources in order to access information
  • Identify literary criticism, biographical, and/or historical era related to a poem
  • Evaluate internet sources using the CRAAP Test

Is there something else that would help you with this assignment? Leave a comment below! :)



Pink = Librarians can help!

English 151

Instructor Trine Miller

Spring 2017

Poetry Detectives (aka Essay #2: Poetry)


The Clues:

In these next few weeks, we will read poems that will both confirm and subvert what you think of poetry and what poetry is. You will have the benefit of class instruction and discussion to help you appreciate poems, and hopefully find one or more that are meaningful to you. But think of all the unfortunate souls who may never have such an opportunity, and may still find themselves in the dark, unaware of the power of poetry. It is your job to write an essay to one person (someone real or imagined) who either just doesn’t “get” and/or like poetry, or who interprets the poem differently than you do, and persuade them of the merits of your interpretation and analysis. To help you do so, you will do some research to uncover facts that will help illuminate the poet, poem, and/or era in which it was written. While these poems are wonder-ful (hyphen intended) all on their own, we can also think of them as clues, veritable breadcrumbs left by their authors for us to pick up and investigate further to discover something about both the poet and ourselves.

The Case:

In 1,500-2,000 words (5-7 pages, 5 FULL pages minimum), explicate (read closely to explain and analyze) ONE poem for a reader who doesn’t “get” poetry or your interpretation. How do you interpret and evaluate this poem, and how does the poem reveal that meaning?

 Ø You must use close textual analysis to support your claims.

Ø You must also use at least 3 research sources from the College of Marin library (see attached page for details) within your paper.

Value: 20% of final grade

Field Instructions:

Ø You must use in-text citations for each fact/idea derived from the poem and from your research, and cite each source in a works cited page at the end of both papers. Please review plagiarism.

Ø You may choose any of the poems assigned for this unit, or you may choose any other poem in our Compact Literature textbook.


***Please Note: I do not require, but HIGHLY recommend that you meet with a reference librarian to help you with your research. I DO require you to meet with a tutor in LC120 (or discuss your essay online via the Online Writing Center) at least once (see attached tutoring form), but I encourage you to work with the tutors in LC 120 and OWC as much as possible. They can help you with any aspect of your writing process. See “Getting Help” page in Lit Aid for more information.


What to include with your essay final draft (PAPER CLIPPED in order, top to bottom):

  • Final draft of essay, including works cited page.
  • Signed tutor form or printout of your OWC correspondence


Using Research in Your Essay


  • To research what others have written about your poem, and to immerse yourself and identify what is interesting in the background history of the poem, poet, and/or era.
  • To help you understand the poem better, and generate your own ideas about it.
  • To share what you have investigated, and to respond to that information with your own ideas.



  • You must use at least 3 library-derived sources found in the library online databases (or—no way!—actual books!)
  • In ADDITION, you may also include any research you find on the internet, provided that research is credible. (i.e. No Wikipedia, etc. Those sites can be good for you to get general information for yourself, but they are not adequately edited, reviewed, etc.).

Ø Review the library’s CRAAP test (go to the library page on Moodle, click on library guides, and scroll down to the libguide for our class for THIS SEMESTER, then click on websites).

Ø Do an advanced google search for .edu and .gov sources—those are typically credible.


How to incorporate research into this essay:

You can include biographical information about the author, historical information about the time and place the author lived, information about the author’s creation of that poem (some poems’ genesis is documented); and/or literary criticism about the poem itself.


There is more than one way to accomplish this task. Here are some suggested ways to organize research in your essay:

  • Include a paragraph or two of background information/research/criticism, as part of your introduction or just after your introduction, to introduce the poem to your reader; and/or,
  • Include biographical/historical research in 1-2 body paragraph claims about the merits of the poem (as part of your argument about why the poem is worth reading); and/or,
  • Include criticism and/or researched facts about the poet, poem, and/or era throughout your essay to support your claims about the poem.

Ø For example: if one of your paragraphs claims that the Theodore Roethke’s poem “My Papa’s Waltz” uses playful and musical sound to evoke a childlike feeling, you could use a quote from a researched source that discusses that tone or sound, as support/evidence for your claim.



You must document any ideas you get from any outside source.

  • Your primary source is the poem, which you will need to cite (whether you quote or paraphrase).
  • Your secondary sources are your research sources, which you will also need to cite (whether you quote or paraphrase).
  • Follow the MLA guidelines in our course reader, Add It to the Mix, as well as on Purdue’s OWL website, to create a thorough and properly formatted in-text citations and works cited page.


See “Doing a Research Paper” in Add It to the Mix for more help.



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