American Poetry Test

Alliteration
a figure of speech formed by repeating the same initial consonant sound in several words in close succession

Allusion
a reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history

Assonance
the repetition of similar vowel sounds in words or lines of poetry

Consonance
the repetition of similar consonant sounds in words or lines of poetry

Denotation/Connotation
a pair of words referring to the distinction between the literal/dictionary definition of a word and the associations it has acquired in use over time.

Enjambment
a run on line, lacking end punctuation

Form
the external pattern or shape of a poem, describable without reference to its content

Hyperbole
the use of extreme exaggeration for effect

Imagery
verbal pictures of sensory (sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch) experiences; words that appeal to the five senses and evoke deeper understanding

Metaphor
a comparison between two things not using the words “like” or “as”… these can be explicit where the metaphor uses the “to be” verb, or implicit where the metaphor is implied

Mood
the reader’s emotional response to the work that he/she is reading

Nuance
slight or subtle shade of meaning or detail

Oxymoron
use of paradoxical or opposite words for effect (i.e. “jumbo shrimp” or “evil smile”)

Personification
giving human qualities to the nonhuman

Simile
a comparison of two things using the words “like” or “as”

Symbol
something that stands for more than just itself

Theme
the main idea or lesson that the author is trying to convey through a text

Tone
the author’s attitude toward his/her work

American Poetry Themes
-Fragile
-Sense of isolation
-A yearning for a past
-Rebellion against tradition
-Striving for a definition of self

Emily Dickenson
-born in New England to a well known family
-1830-1866
-family moved to Amherst, MA
-Christian
-Wadsworth
-Grew more reclusive in the 1860’s and 1870’s when people close to her died
-Killed by Bright’s disease
-In America, perhaps only Walt Whitman is her equal in legend and in degree of influence
-secretly produced an enormous canon of poetry while locked in her room and refusing visitor after visitor.
-Her relationship with her mother was distant, and though she was likely her father’s favorite, her relationship with him was sometimes frosty.
-stood out as an eccentric when, as a young girl, she refused to join the church officially or even to call herself a Christian
-she was very social until she stopped going to school because of health problems
– her poetry was traditional at first but she began to experiment as time went on
– she met wadsworth, and it is believed that she was in love with him
– when he left, Dickinson suffered a nervous breakdown that incapacitated her for a week and nearly ruined her eyesight.
– she started getting depressed and shut off

Robert Frost
-1874-1963
-Raised in New England
-Got many awards
-Went to England for awards
-Children died
-father died of tuberculosis, so he moved to lawrence, ma with his mom and sister
– Frost married Elinor Miriam White, whom he’d shared valedictorian honors with in high school and who was a major inspiration for his poetry until her death in 1938
-tried to farm in new hampshire but failed so moved to england
– It was abroad that Frost met and was influenced by such contemporary British poets as Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke, and Robert Graves.
– he came back to the us and had lots of poetry and was respectable/honored
– Though his work is principally associated with the life and landscape of New England, Frost is anything but merely a regional poet
– author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony.
-Hoffman describes Frost’s early work as “the Puritan ethic turned astonishingly lyrical and enabled to say out loud the sources of its own delight in the world,”

Langston Hughes
-1902-1967
-Born in Joplin, Missouri
-Influenced by the Harlem Renaissance which began after the civil war
-Art and jazz
-New culture
-Traveled to Africa and parts of Europe
– parents divorced and his dad moved to mexico
-he was raised by his grandma until he was 13
– his grandma’s husband died fighting for his rights which affected his poetry
– moved to lincoln, illinois to live with mom and husband until they settled in cleveland, ohio
– spent a year in mexico and a year at columbia in nyc
– He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry
– jazz had a large effect on his writing, especially in his book montage of a dream deferred
– He wanted to tell the stories of his people and accurately portray every aspect of their culture- i.e. music, laughter, language, and suffering
– he helped shape the harlem renaissance
– hard relationship with father

Billy Collins
-1941-
-Born in New York
-Funny and witty poems
-Relatable poems
-Won numerous awards
-On of the most popular poets in America

Mary Oliver
-1935- Maple heights, OH
-Private
-Won numerous awards
-Inspired by nature
As a teenager, she lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind.

Walt Whitman
-1819-1892
-Born in Long Island, NY
-Worked as a printer
-Many talents: politics, performance, writing, farming
-Influenced by the civil war
-Wanted to be cleansed
-Self actualization and realization

Sylvia Plath
-1932-1963
-Born in Boston
-Wrestled with demons (mostly because of her dad’s death)
-Committed suicide through oven- very painful way
-Confessional Poetry

Jane Kenyon
Ann arbor, michigan
1947-1995
depression that lasted throughout much of her adult life. Writing for the last two decades of her life at her farm in northern New England, Kenyon is also remembered for her stoic portraits of domestic and rural life; as essayist Gary Roberts noted in Contemporary Women Poets, her poetry was “acutely faithful to the familiarities and mysteries of home life, and it is distinguished by intense calmness in the face of routine disappointments and tragedies.”

Lucille Clifton
Depew, New York, on June 27, 1936 – 2010
“In contrast to much of the poetry being written today—intellectualized lyricism characterized by an application of inductive thought to unusual images—Lucille Clifton’s poems are compact and self-sufficient…Her revelations then resemble the epiphanies of childhood and early adolescence, when one’s lack of preconceptions about the self allowed for brilliant slippage into the metaphysical, a glimpse into an egoless, utterly thingful and serene world.”