analyzing the way in which certain words or passages in the poem

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In her essay “Mother Tongue,” the writer Amy Tan speaks of “the power of language — the way it can evoke an emotion, a visual image, a complex idea, or a simple truth.” For this essay, examine ONE of the poems we’ve read (“Song,” “Mexicans Begin Jogging,” “My Love Is Black,” or “Simple,” analyzing the way in which certain words or passages in the poem manage to do each of the things Tan says language can do, i.e., spur a reader (in this case, you) to:

a) feel an emotion,

b) visualize an image,

c) think about an idea,


d) contemplate a truth.


Be sure to use 3-part structure – beginning, middle, end:

Introductory Paragraph w/ Tan and her quote, poem’s author and title, your thesis statement;

Four Body Paragraphs w/ focused topic sentences and specific quotes/examples/images from the poem illustrating each of the four “powers” (emotion, image, idea, truth) — one power per paragraph;

Concluding Paragraph: w/ summary and final thought.


  1. This essay is not about Amy Tan or her writing. Her quote is just a starting point, your springboard to an examination of the poem you select.
  1. This essay is meant to be a personal response to the poem you select. Be as detailed and descriptive as possible in expressing yourself. Try to show (not just tell) your audience, as vividly as you can, the emotion(s), image(s), idea(s) and truth(s) that the poet evokes in you. In doing so, however, you should NOT begin your sentences with phrases like “I think” or “I believe” — obviously, the things you write will be things you think and believe. So be careful NOT to overuse first-person singular pronouns “I,” “me,” etc. It’s better, when you can, to use first-person plural “we,” “us,” etc. The use of the collective plural is perfect for sentences such as, “Carver’s images of landscape and weather give us a clear sense of place,” or “Like the speaker in Rich’s poem, we have all felt lonely at times, but is being alone the same thing as feeling lonely?”
  1. For task b above (“visualize an image”), feel free to explore non-visual imagery. In other words, you can choose to write about images engaging the other four senses of sound, touch, taste, and/or smell.
  1. No outside sources required or recommended. Your sources will be the Tan quote and the poem you choose to write about (the poem being the primary source). Quote Tan once, in your intro; quote your chosen poem at least once in each body paragraph. Document your quotes using MLA style – i.e., in-text documentation with line number, not page number, and a Works Cited page at the end of the essay. When quoting from the poem, use a slash (/) to indicate a line break. If you choose to consult outside sources, be sure to cite them within your essay and on your Works Cited page; otherwise you will risk plagiarism.
  2. Respond to the prompt below in a 6-paragraph essay that is unified, coherent, and fully supported. The essay must reach a minimum length of 1200 words. An MLA-style Works Cited page at the end of the paper is required but will NOT count toward the length

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