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A reader response is a critical piece of writing that tells the reader what a te

A reader response is a critical piece of writing that tells the reader what a text (in this case, a poem) means to you. It reflects a close reading of the work, contains specific examples drawn from the work, and provides your well-considered opinion of the work’s strengths and/or shortcomings. An effective reader response will demonstrate that you have read the poem, internalized and contextualized its arguments, and can articulate and substantiate your reactions to it.
A reader response should genuinely attempt to shed light on one or more aspects of the work. You might discuss the significance of character, setting, symbolism, rhyme, meter – whatever aspects that strike you as particularly affective or meaningful. Overall, I am looking for interesting and original insights concerning the poem that are substantiated by evidence from the text.
A Reader Response Is Not . . .
. . . a descriptive summary of the poem or of the events it describes: assume your reader has read the poem and is familiar with it
. . . a classic “thesis” paper, in which you state a thesis argument; the post must have an organizing argument, but it should be more analytic than descriptive
. . . a research paper – you may consult additional sources if you like, but you are not required to do so
If you do consult outside sources, be sure to review the “Research” policy in the Syllabus first
. . . an opportunity for general opinionating (“I thought it was really good” or “I thought it was terrible”), nor is it an opportunity to make statements of opinion that are not supported by evidence drawn from the text
. . . a test of whether you had the “right” interpretation of the poem
A Reader Response Is . . .
. . . a venue for you to tell us what the poem means to you
Your response should display a thoughtful evaluation of the text and express how it may have contributed (or not contributed) to your understanding of a particular theme, and why
Getting Started
Select only one poem about which to write your reader response, and then ask yourself the following questions as you prepare to write your reader response. You don’t need to include the answers to these questions in your final post, but they can help you organize your thoughts and decide what you’d like to write about.
What parts of the poem did you like the most, and why?
What parts of the poem did you like the least, and why?
What about the author’s style did you like, and why? What did you dislike, and why?
What is the main theme or what are the main themes of the poem? Did the author, in your opinion, do a decent job of presenting this/these theme(s)? Why or why not?
How does this poem relate to your everyday life? What did you learn from it? If you didn’t learn much, why was that?
What questions are you left with after reading the poem? What would you like to learn more about?

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