Poetry Draft Assignment


For this assignment, students will examine drafts of poems from the Rose Library’s poetry collections, looking for insights offered by an author’s changes between drafts and the published poem. After examining the drafts, students will write an argument-driven, formal essay analyzing the poem and the author’s choice and are encouraged, but not required, to use secondary sources. Students may need to return to the Reading Room for this assignment, but should be allowed to do so at their discretion.

This assignment serves as an introduction to archival research and an introduction to a type of scholarship in the field of literary studies.

    After completing this assignment, students will be able to

    • conduct archival research
    • read library catalogue and finding aid information
    • practice appropriate care and handling of archival materials
    • develop an analytical argument based on primary source research
    • use close reading skills and critical thinking to analyze a poem

    In order to make the most of your time during your Rose Library Session, please be sure to prepare your students in advance.

    • Instructor should provide a clear goal of what students should accomplish during rotations
    • Prior to the session, students should understand what they are looking for while examining the materials
    • Students should have a clear sense of what they need to know about an object to complete the assignment successfully
    • We recommend using digitized or photocopied materials in class to help students understand how to read drafts

    Here’s what you can expect during your class session:

    • Introduction to the Rose Library (if this is the first class visit)
    • Introduction to the materials in use
    • Care and handling instructions
    • A modified version of speed dating, in which students will select 5 drafts to examine and rotate among those items. Students may work in pairs or small groups when necessary.

    Students will produce a 5-6 page thesis driven essay.

    Relevant collections will vary with course topics. Please consult with Rose Library staff to determine how our materials can best serve your course goals. Below are collections frequently used with assignments of this nature.

    The time students spend with materials in the session will be most productive if they have read the poems before coming to the library. Students also may want to have a copy of the published versions of the poems with them while examining drafts.

    To cite this page:

    Suhr-Sytsma, Nathan. "Poetry Draft Assignment," Rose Library Teaching with Archives Portal, [date of access], http://rose.library.emory.edu/instruction/portal/assignments/poetry-draft.html.

    Please cite this portal and give credit to the creator when using this assignment.


    Dr Nathan Suhr-Sytsma
    Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Emory

    Used In
    ENG 205 Introduction to Poetry

    This writing-intensive class serves as an introduction to the English major and helps students build skills for understanding, analyzing, and enjoying poetry.

    This assignment can be adapted for use in any class that studies poetry. It can be altered to be a more intensive project for upper-level students, or it can be made into a lower-stakes assignment, such as a blog post.

    Highlighted Materials
    Seamus Heaney papers (MSS 960) and collection (MSS 653)
    Michael Longley papers  (MSS 744)
    Carol Ann Duffy papers (MSS 834)
    Lucille Clifton papers (MSS 1054)

    Course Materials
    Printable Assignment Sheet