11th Grade American Lit /Comp A: Unit 1 Portfolio
Ms. Barrett/Ms. Earwood
EOC Practice Essay
1. Do this instead of the Unit 1 Portfolio. Watch this recording for help getting started.
2. ONLY submit a final draft (due in Unit 1, Lesson 11)
3. This paper includes reading the paragraphs numbered below before you begin writing (see
pages 2 and 3)
Write your essay on the following prompt:
The author claims that Dickey’s career as a poet declined after the success of his novel
Deliverance. How does the author develop this claim? Use details from the text to support your
In your 2 point Expository Essay, you should do the following:
1. Clearly state your thesis (claim).
2. Use SPECIFIC examples and evidence from the numbered paragraphs below to support your
claim- Make sure you have two specific examples
-You MUST use in-text citations after using information from a passage- just put
(Paragraph 1) or (Paragraph 2) after the paraphrased or quoted sentence :)
3. In your second paragraph, restate your claim and summarize the new information
4.. This should be a TWO paragraph, 12 sentence minimum response
5. Use formal writing style (no 1st- or 2nd-person use allowed)..
6. Use proper spelling and conventions as well as MLA format .
7. Use this scoring rubric to evaluate your own essay and write what score you deserve at the
top of your paper before turning it in.
Read the following passages before writing your response
A Biography of James Dickey
1 One of the most highly regarded 20th century poets, James Dickey was perhaps best known
for his 1970 novel, Deliverance. A writer, a critic, a lecturer, and a teacher, Dickey was
described by The New York Times as a “big, sprawling, life-loving man.”
2 A Georgia native, Dickey was born in 1923 in Atlanta, where he spent his childhood. He
enrolled in Clemson University in 1942, but dropped out just a few months later to join the Army
Air Corps. His early experiences as a navigator—flying over 100 missions in the Pacific during
World War II—ultimately would provide rich fodder for many of his poems, including one of his
most famous, “The Firebombing.”
3 Upon returning from the war, Dickey completed his undergraduate degree and earned a
Master’s degree in English at Vanderbilt University. While at Vanderbilt, Dickey tried his hand at
poetry and had several poems published in the university’s literary magazine. After college, he
married Maxine Syerson. In 1950 they moved to Houston, Texas, where he began teaching
English at Rice University. After just a couple of years at Rice, Dickey was recalled to active
duty by the military when the Korean War began. During his service, Dickey sold his first poem,
“Shark in the Window,” to The Sewanee Review.
4 Dickey returned to Rice after completing his military service, and then moved on to the
University of Florida, but found it difficult to make ends meet on his teacher’s salary. He left
teaching behind for the more lucrative advertising business and moved to Manhattan to work as
a copywriter. Dickey was a success, and for five years he worked for agencies in New York and
Atlanta, but he found he had little time left to devote to his poetry. He also felt guilty about his
work, viewing advertising as a form of corruption. “I knew how to manipulate those poor sheep,
but the fact I felt that way about them was an indication of my own corruption,” he said.
5 Dickey finally left advertising behind and, after a year in Italy, he spent the next few years as
“poet in residence” at several universities and published two volumes of poetry and a selection
of critical essays. Dickey’s poetry from this time is known for “a mixture of lyricism and
narrative,” as Richard Stull wrote in Modern American Poetry. Dickey often focused on everyday
subjects, from his wartime experiences to animals to football players. In 1966, his collection of
poems, titled Buckdancer’s Choice, which contained “Firebombing,” was awarded the
prestigious National Book Award in Poetry.
6 In 1967, Dickey was named the consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress—the
equivalent of what is now the poet laureate—and while there he was known for his strong,
outspoken opinions. The following year he was hired by the University of South Carolina, where
he remained on the faculty until his death.
7 While at the university, Dickey was viewed as a popular and inspirational teacher but was
almost as well-known for his outrageous behavior. Poetry was always Dickey’s first love, but the
publication of Deliverance, the gripping story of four Atlanta businessmen on a weekend canoe
trip that ends in disaster, brought Dickey a degree of acclamation not usually experienced by
poets. The subsequent Hollywood movie based on the novel, for which Dickey wrote the
screenplay, made him a household name.
8 The book’s success was a turning point for Dickey, according to The New Georgia
Encyclopedia. Dickey’s poetry in the years after became “more experimental and abstract, less
spontaneous and effective.” While he continued to teach and write, he never was able to attain
the same sort of success or critical praise for his work. Afflicted with liver disease and lung
failure, Dickey died in 1997.
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