Prepared Reading

For this exercise, choose a poem from The Open Door and read it to the class. It’s that simple. Or is it? Reading aloud is a form of interpretation. There are choices to be made at every line:

  • Should you represent the way the poem looks on the page or the way it would sound as conversation?
  • Should you give more weight to sound schemes (like rhymes or puns) or subtleties of meaning (like irony or archaic diction)?
  • Audience response: Are you aiming for high emotion (pathos), nostalgia, laughter, unease, contemplation…? There are many reasons to convey a different mood than the one that seems obvious.
  • If the poem is very famous, do you want us to recognize it immediately or hear it anew?
  • If the poet-speaker is marked in some way (by a regional dialect, gender, age, etc.), do you emphasize that distinction in your delivery? Do you feel uncomfortable at all? Should we?
  • You do not need to memorize the poem, but you should be familiar and comfortable with it. Try to make eye contact with the class.

    For the remainder of your presentation (in total, 4-10 minutes), try to lay out some of the thinking that went into your preparation. What did you try to emphasize? This may involve giving us some background information, e.g., a poetic form or rhetorical term, or an event or location the poet refers to.

    By the beginning of the next class (following your presentation), post a short reflection (minimum 150 words) on your prepared reading. How has practicing for an oral presentation change the way you approach the poem or the poet? Why did you make the decisions you did? In retrospect, would you have chosen differently? How would you have improved the presentation? Admitting to mistakes or anxieties is a sign of self-awareness, and will never result in loss of marks.

    Worth 5% of overall grade.

    Sign up for presentation dates on Blackboard (Presentation sign-up > Open Door).


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