Twentieth Century American Poets


Good Afternoon Students, Your next assignment is Unit 5, American Poetry. You will study four of America’s greatest poets who write of hope and distrust of America. They recognize a stronghold of prejudice in America, yet they long for equality that is promised to all Americans. The first part of the unit will focus on Walt Whitman who is known as America’s great democratic poet. You will read his most famous poem, “Leaves of Grass,” which was written before the Civil War and underwent many rewritings throughout the 19th century. This will introduce you to the style and form of his poetry which influenced the other 3 poets. He is egocentric, evident by the constant use of the pronoun “I” throughout the poem which is composed of long lines and lists called catalogues. These characteristics are apparent in the other 3 poets you will study including Carl Sandburg, Langston Hughes, and Allen Ginsberg. Unlike Whitman’s intense praise for American democracy, the other poets are more cynical. Patriotic in their own way, they write of a different America in the 20th century when modern society began to openly defy the traditional social norms. You will learn what experiences in their lives influenced their interpretation of democracy. The purpose of this assignment is to teach you how to read and interpret poetry and to recognize that concepts and events connect us to previous generations. This to say that our history is vital and should not be forgotten. Your grade for this course will be based on 5 comments and 6 responses – which are worth 50 points. A virtual photograph album with biographies, pictures, comments, and anything your find interesting to include about each poet. You will also write our own poem which will be included somewhere in the album. Your topic should focus on your own experience with democracy – or someone else’s you have observed. You may wish to draw from an event, relationship,or even a journey to a foreign country where the political beliefs are different from the beliefs in America. This project is worth 250 points

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