Be too general with your evidence—you
need SPECIFIC examples to back-up your
thesis. For example, don’t just say the
poem uses diction. All poems use diction.
SHOW me—with quotes—what kind of
diction the poet uses and why these word
choices support your argument.
Simply translate or restate the poem—you
need to think about how and why the
poem creates meaning, not just what it
Assume that your quotations will prove
your point without explanation—you need
to explain WHY your quotes are important.
Rely on the poet’s biography to create an
interpretation of the poem—you should
analyze only what the POEM ITSELF tells
Restate ideas mentioned in class or readily
available online. I want to see your ideas
and fresh, unique meanings; I don’t want to
see my own ideas (or ideas from strangers
on the Internet) regurgitated back to me.
Use secondary sources. The poem should
be the only source on your Works Cited
• Use MLA format for your paper, including
a Works Cited page and in-text
parenthetical citations (citing line or stanza
• Use the present tense (the “literary
present”) to discuss the poem.
• Use backslashes to indicate line breaks in
your quotations (e.g., “I felt a Funeral, in
my Brain, / And Mourners to and fro”).
• Put poem titles in quotations (poem and
short story titles go in quotations while
titles of whole books should be in italics).
• Give your paper a title.• Go to the Writing Center for additional
feedback on analyzing your poem and/or
writing your paper.• Visit my office hours to discuss the poem
one-on-one and talk about possible theses.