Poetry Writing and Rationale

Poetry Writing Task


As part of our unit on The Kite Runner we have been investigating poetry of change. We have explored the idea of poetry as social commentary and as a means of social change. We have also explored poetry that reflects a more personal change. We have read several examples including “Ispahan Carpet,” “The Voice of Africa,” “Democracy,” and examples of found poetry. 


Write a poem that echoes the concept of poetry as social commentary or of personal change. Write a rationale after completing your poem. It should outline the devices you used and the reason you employed them. The combined word length should be between 500-1000 words.


  1. Demonstrate your understanding of repetition as a poetic device
  2. Demonstrate your understanding of meaningful structure
  3. Demonstrate your ability to employ at least two other poetic devices e.g. metaphor, simile, tone, imagery, narrative voice, alliteration, assonance, diction (word choice), etc. 


  1. Review the poems that you have written in response to the works studied throughout the unit.
  2. Select the poem that you feel best reflects the ideas of poetry as social commentary or of personal change. You may also start fresh with new work if you prefer.
  3. Evaluate and edit your poem to further develop the task concepts and requirements.
  4. Some suggestions for evaluating and editing your poem include:
    1. Rewrite your poem changing the line breaks and layout to emphasize meaning (structure). Try rewriting your poem at least twice.
    2. Consider where repetition might strengthen your ideas.
    3. At what point in your poem would imagery help the reader to “see” what you’ve described? (imagery)
    4. What is the tone of your poem? How have you constructed that tone? Can you strengthen it?
    5. Where could you enhance meaning by way of incorporating a poetic device?
    6. Pick out key words and phrases. Could they be replaced to add meaning? (diction)


 Your work should be submitted for assessment through your google docs folio. Your poem should be typed and error free. Present your poem using a standard font (e.g. Times, Calibri, Arial) and layout appropriate to your structure. Title your poem if appropriate and include your name as the poet. 

Some of you will also publish your work as part of your IT publication.

Poetry Rationale

Have a look at Ms. Thompson’s great poem based upon Langston Hughes’Democracy’

Along with your poem you need to write a rationale. A rationale simply explains what you set out to achieve and how you did this. You should explain each device that you have employed in your poem.  The benefit here is that even if your example of a device isn’t so great, we are still able to see what you have tried to do.

Here’s the rationale that I wrote based upon her poem:

My poem “Alaska” is derived from Langston Hughes’ poem “Democracy”. The poem explains an issue I feel strongly about: the ignorance regarding sexual assault in indigenous communities. I have employed a variety of structural and literary devices to develop my thoughts and ideas.

The structure of the work was intentionally chosen to emphasize certain ideas. In the first stanza I chose to indent the questions to emphasize the need to “push the issue”. Similarly, in the third stanza, reducing the indent of each lines stresses the phrase “to rape”, emphasizing the core idea behind the poem. Additionally, the diminishing length of these lines develops a sense of helplessness- although many women seem to be affected by this issue, little or nothing is done about it. Further, in the fourth stanza, I have aligned the repeated word “speak”, as a call for all to speak-out on this issue. Through each of these structural choices, I have tried to emphasize the idea that rape in indigenous communities must be addressed directly to protect the safety and dignity of young women. 

This issue represents a cultural difference where, from my background, parents are actively encouraged to speak-out when their children are sexually assaulted. This is in stark contrast to the practices of indigenous communities in Alaska, though it is difficult to believe this is the case. This idea is supported by the repetition of the lines, “it is not our way”. Behind these lines, a phrase like “you wouldn’t understand” resonates, further emphasizing that cultural divide.

I have also employed several rhetorical questions to develop the sense of confusion surrounding the issue. The rhetorical questions in the third stanza encourage the reader to address cultural assumptions. In my first draft, I had written these lines as statements: “It is your way/to rape your daughters”, though this sounded too accusatory; change won’t happen without the participants questioning their cultural assumptions. I decided that the rhetorical questions encouraged this sense of questioning where the reader is encouraged to make up their own mind rather than simply be told. 


Your poem and rationale will be assessed using Criterion A and C.

Task Specific Clarifications

As their are two parts to this task, the poem and the rationale, different descriptors in the criteria will be applied to the different tasks. Read the following to see how:

The Poem: Criterion A

  • Your poem is sensitive to the topic and  issues you are discussing.
  • Your poem clearly expresses an issue surrounding the topic with depth and clarity
  • You employ a variety of poetic devices effectively to better express your ideas
The Poem: Criterion C
  • You employ accurate vocabulary to best express your ideas
  • Sentence structure is accurate and remains consistent given the poem genre.
  • Grammar and syntax remain accurate and consistent given the poem genre.
  • You employ punctuation effectively given the genre.
  • Spelling is accurate.
The Rationale: Criterion A
  • You demonstrate a perceptive understanding of the choices you made when creating the poem
  • You clearly identify the poetic techniques you employed and discuss their effect
  • You use literary terminology effectively
The Rationale: Criterion C
  • You employ vocabulary that accurately explains the choices you made
  • You vary sentence structure and use grammatical conventions accurately
  • You write using an academic register to explain your choices
  • Your punctuation and spelling is accurate

Image: ‘band of horses:is there a ghost

One Response to “Poetry Writing and Rationale”

  1. mario July 24, 2013 at 4:25 PM #


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