General Notes and Advice for writing device paper: (Sept. 20, 2004)


Your purpose is to explain a poetic device and to offer an example that illustrates your device.


Imagine you are teaching a high school audience about this device.


Do not attempt to analyze an entire poem.  You may have to summarize the poem in order to explain your example, but do not get led away into analyzing the whole poem.  Your purpose is much simpler than that.


Choose a small, doable device and define it precisely.  If you choose a larger category, like metaphor, choose a single aspect of it.


Provide page number and reference to your poem, or if it is not in the collection we are using, provide me a copy of the poem.


Use a poetic reference, a dictionary of literary terms or an encyclopedia of poetry, to find your definitions.  Use more than one in order to get a clearer, better, and more comprehensive understanding of your device.  The definition part is important.  See course bibliography and visit the reference section of the library.


** In addition to being a paper that introduces a poetic concept, that teaches your projected highschool audience about the device – say, “alliteration” – it is ALSO the opportunity to learn how to say what “alliteration” means in a given instance.  This is harder.  Your challenge is to find an example of “alliteration” – or whatever device you choose – and break it down, show how the poet put it together, and say what effect that particular example has, what it means, how it contributes meaning to the line.  It is one thing to be able to say, “the poet uses alliteration.”  It is more important to be able to say, “the poet uses alliteration in the words ‘sinuous sack’ to create a connection between the words; the repeated ‘s’ sound creates a snake-like hiss that suggest something evil lurking in the soft bag.”


Your structure for this paper is fairly simple:


Introduce and define your device (also indicate its usefulness, appeal and purpose in a poem).

Provide an example from a poem to illustrate the above.

Offer a conclusion that draws out the implications of your definition and example and suggest why it is important.



ALSO, please refer to my suggestions for formal writing.  Everything you turn in should be typed / word processed / printed (not by hand) and double-spaced.   My guidelines are available by link from the course syllabus website.