Modern Poetry

What is poetry?

Discuss this at your tables and come up with a group definition to share with the class.


Is this a poem?

So much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.


Is this a poem?

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white


This is called “The Red Wheelbarrow” and it’s by William Carlos Williams.


Here’s another one: 

The fog comes on little cat feet. It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on.


“Fog” by Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.


It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.


Take a look at the poem, “This is Just to Say” by William Carlos Williams.  In groups, read, annotate, and discuss the structure and meaning of this poem, trying to come up with a list of ways to analyze a contemporary poem. Be prepared to share back with the class.


How do you analyze a contemporary poem?






All of these become very important when understanding the meaning.

Analyzing a Contemporary Poem

Hi folks! Today you’re going to analyze the contemporary poem, “Golden Retrievals.”

First, read and annotate silently on your own.

Next, discuss at your tables the potential meaning of this poem.

In your groups, create the following diagram on a whiteboard:

Graphic Organizer

The theme should be clearly stated in the middle with the literary techniques used in the bubbles (with examples).

The final step is to select one person from your group to present to the class what the poem is about.  It will be interesting to hear your different analyses!

Practice with Poetry Analysis

Today, you’re going to work with a partner to analyze two challenging poems.  With your partner, you’ll do the following:


Partner #1:

First, read one of the poems aloud.

Second, talk aloud about what you think the poem means, including identification of literary devices and analysis.

Partner #2:

You are silent during all of this.  As your partner reads and analyzes aloud, write down what he/she says about the poem. In other words, you are annotating based upon what your partner notices.



Switch roles with the second poem.



Now have a discussion about the potential meaning behind each of the two poems, as well as a discussion of your analysis techniques.