Follow this down to the letter EXTREMELY HARSH GRADER…

Both poems are below

This assignment asks you to analyze and interpret a short poem and use a secondary source either by the poet ( or about the poet to compliment your interpretation. To succeed you should demonstrate that you understand the terms I have provided in class – irony, allusion, ambiguity, diction, connotation, denotation, imagery, repetition, simile, metaphor, dialect, form, and tone (among others) – and the contents of the secondary source. More important than terminology, though, will be your ability to demonstrate your understanding of the poem, your ability to make multiple meanings from the poem, your ability to place the poem and the secondary source in conversation.

You should formulate a thesis whose claim you can support, elaborate on, and complicate throughout the essay. That thesis will likely consider the tension between a poem’s words’ surface-level meaning and its deeper, more figurative meaning as well as the poem’s historical and cultural context.  It should be a complex statement summarizing your overall interpretation of the poem. (Including a subordinating conjunction in a thesis statement can be a good way to ensure complexity, as it considering a poem’s literal and figurative meanings.) In the essay, you need to both analyze what the poem means as a whole and describe how its particulars work to create meaning(s). The more details you can include, the stronger and more interesting your essay will be.

In essays for this class, always imagine an intelligent reader who may have no knowledge of our class and no special understanding of poetry; in other words, write for a general audience.

Think of your goal for this assignment as twofold: to explain a poem to your reader and to offer your own particular insights on how the secondary source contributes to an understanding of the poem. You are welcome to include your own reactions to a poem, but please, if you are going to include these in your essay, rather than the first person (“I”, “me”), use the phrase “some readers” (since the reader you are when you first encounter the poem is not the reader you will be when you finish this assignment).

One paragraph should have insightful ties to history. A historical source allows for deeper meaning from the poem.  Using a historian source about the era that Weary blues where written while connecting it to this era. The cultural moment, the Harlem renaissance or early twentieth century Americas. How could they all connect to the two poems?

Kindly do use only one secondary source for this essay. You can make use of resources like The Writing Center and The Learning Center (formerly known as ASAP) to have conversations about the poem and obtain helpful guidance. Additionally, you can schedule a time to speak with me during office hours; such a conversation could prove helpful.

This essay should be five complete double-spaced pages (which will not include the required works cited page where you will let me know where you found the poem you analyze and the secondary source) and adhere to all the requirements of the Modern Language Association’s eighth edition.

Poem chosen:  “The Weary Blues” (please use this version of the poem: the poem’s indentation and spacing might well matter to your interpretation; other versions omit the indentations.  

Here are at least some of the choices for secondary sources:

“The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” by Langston Hughes,

“Music and Poetry: Ballad and Blues Stanzas” from The Smithsonian Institution, and

“Literacy and Authenticity: The Blues Poems of Langston Hughes” by David Chinitz. (I have ordered this resource through the library and will share it upon request.)

If you would like to use another source, it must be a peer-reviewed source: please work with the research librarian at the library to locate one; the help hotline for the research desk at the library is 607-752-2590 and the library’s web page and search engines are available here.