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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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3. Utopian Promise   

11. Modernist Portraits

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Activities: Author Activities

Marianne Moore - Teaching Tips

Back Back to Marianne Moore Activities
  • Moore's poetry is a good place for students to start thinking about the different ways in which poems can be organized. For example, poems may be structured around a description, story, meditation, or argument. Choose a poem by Moore that has a more straightforward narrative, such as "A Grave" or "Baseball and Writing," and divide it into three to five parts that you feel correspond to the structural divisions of the poem. The more advanced students are, the more parts you can divide the poem into. Break students into groups and give each group one segment of the poem and ask them to determine where in the order of the poem the passage falls. Ask them to support their claim by hypothesizing about why they believe it is a particular section of the poem and what beginnings, middles, or ends usually look like. After having made their own claims, groups should talk with one another to compare passages and to determine the relationship between the various sections. This can be followed by a full class discussion of the poem and an analysis of one of Moore's more difficult structures, such as "Poetry" or "The Paper Nautilus."

  • The absence of specifically female experience in Moore's poetry is also worth noting and may become more apparent to students when contrasted to the work of Sylvia Plath or Anne Sexton, for example. Students might discuss why Moore felt that her identity as a woman and her identity as a poet were incompatible and then examine how her work takes on experiences that can be generalized to all of human-kind, rather than focusing on the experience of women.

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