Tom Piotrowski Comparison Essay

Jean Wyrick is Professor Emerita of English at Colorado State University, where she was Director of Composition for 11 years. She has more than 25 years of experience teaching writing, training writing teachers, and designing writing/writing-across-the-curriculum programs. Her other textbooks include THE RINEHART READER and DISCOVERING IDEAS. She has presented over a hundred workshops and papers on the teaching of writing, American literature, American Studies, and Women's Studies.

Writing well is just a step away! Join the thousands of students who have learned to write well with Jean Wyrick's helpful instruction. STEPS TO WRITING WELL WITH ADDITIONAL READINGS, International Edition, is the ultimate step-by-step guide to writing effective essays. With Wyrick's clear, practical advice and student-friendly tone, you'll find it easy to begin, organize, and revise your writing-from choosing a topic to developing your essay to polishing your prose. Interesting readings in a variety of styles offer useful examples of the types of essays you'll most often be assigned in your composition and other college classes.

PART I: THE BASICS OF THE SHORT ESSAY.1. Prewriting.Getting Started (or Soup-Can Labels Can Be Fascinating). Selecting a Subject. Finding Your Essay''s Purpose and Focus. Pump Primer Techniques. After You''ve Found Your Focus. Discovering Your Audience. How to Identify Your Readers. Keeping a Journal (Talking to Yourself Does Help). Chapter Summary.2. The Thesis Statement.What Is a Thesis? What Does a Working Thesis" Do? Can a "Working Thesis" Change? Guidelines for Writing a Good Thesis. Avoiding Common Errors in Thesis Statements. Using the Essay Map. Chapter Summary.3. The Body Paragraphs.Planning the Body of Your Essay. Composing the Body Paragraphs. The Topic Sentence. Paragraph Development. Paragraph Length. Paragraph Unity. Paragraph Coherence. Paragraph Sequence. Transitions between Paragraphs. Chapter Summary.4. Beginnings and Endings.How to Write a Good Lead-in. Avoiding Errors in Lead-ins. How to Write a Good Concluding Paragraph. Avoiding Errors in Conclusions. How to Write a Good Title. Chapter Summary.5. Drafting and Revision: Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking.What Is Revision? When Does Revision Occur? Myths about Revision. Can I Learn to Improve My Revision Skills? Preparing to Draft: Some Time-Saving Hints. Writing Centers, Computer Labs, and Computer Classrooms. A Revision Process for Your Drafts. What Is Critical Thinking? Thinking Critically as a Writer. Benefiting from Revision Workshops. Some Last Advice: How to Play with Your Mental Blocks. Chapter Summary.6. Effective Sentences.Developing a Clear Style. Developing a Concise Style. Developing a Lively Style. Developing an Emphatic Style. Chapter Summary.7. Word Logic.Selecting the Correct Words. Selecting the Best Words. Chapter Summary.8. The Reading-Writing Connection.How Can Reading Well Help Me Become a Better Writer? How Can I Become an Analytical Reader? Sample Annotated Essay: "Our Youth Should Serve" by Steven Muller. Writing a Summary. Benefiting from Class Discussions. Chapter Summary.PART I SUMMARY: THE BASICS OF THE SHORT ESSAY.PART II: PURPOSES, MODES, AND STRATEGIES.9. Exposition.The Strategies of Exposition. Strategy One: Development by Example. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "River Rafting Teaches Worthwhile Lessons." Professional Essay: "What''s So Bad about Being So-So?" by Lisa Wilson Strick. Strategy Two: Development by Process Analysis. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Catching Garage Sale Fever." Professional Essay: "To Bid the World Farewell" by Jessica Mitford. Professional Essay: "Preparing for the Job Interview: Know Thyself" by Katy Piotrowski. Strategy Three: Development by Comparison and Contrast. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: Point-by-Point Pattern: "Bringing Back the Joy of Market Day." Student Essay: Block Pattern: "Backyard: Old and New." Professional Essay: Point-by-Point Pattern: "Grant and Lee: A Study in Contrasts" by Bruce Catton. Professional Essay: Block Pattern: "Two Ways of Viewing the River" by Mark Twain. Strategy Four: Development by Definition. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Blind Paces." Professional Essay: "The Munchausen Mystery" by Don R. Lipsitt. Strategy Five: Development by Division and Classification. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "The Native American Era at Mesa Verde." Professional Essay: "The Plot against People" by Russell Baker. Professional Essay: Division: "A Brush with Reality: Surprises in the Tube" by David Bodanis. Strategy Six: Development by Causal Analysis. Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "It''s Simply Not Worth It." Professional Essay: "Some Lessons from the Assembly Line" by Andrew Braaksma.10. Argumentation.Developing Your Essay. Problems to Avoid. Common Logical Fallacies. Student Essay: "Students, Take Note!" Professional Pro/Con Essays: School Schedules. "High Schools, Wake Up!" from USA Today. "Reform No Child''s Play" by Paul D. Houston. Conflicting Positions: Gun Control (ads). Competing Products: Energy Sources (ads). Popular Appeals: Spending Our Money (ads).11. Description.How to write Effective Description. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Treeclimbing." Professional Essay: Describing a Person: "Still Learning from My Mother" by Cliff Schneider.12. Narration.Writing the Effective Narrative Essay. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Never Underestimate the Little Things." Professional Essay: "Sister Flowers" by Maya Angelou.13. Writing Essays Using Multiple Strategies.Choosing the Best Strategies. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Pass the Broccoli-Please!" Professional Essay: "Don''t Let Stereotypes Warp Your Judgments" by Robert L Heinbroner.PART III: SPECIAL ASSIGNMENTS.14. Writing a Paper Using Research.Focusing Your Topic. Beginning Your Library Research. Conducting Primary Research. The Personal Interview. The Questionnaire. Preparing a Working Bibliography. Choosing and Evaluating Your Sources. Preparing an Annotated Bibliography. Taking Notes. Avoiding Plagiarism. Choosing the Documentation Style for Your Essay. MLA Style. APA Style. Using Supplementary Notes. Student Paper Using MLA Style: "A Possibility of Survival: The Mysterious Fate of Anastasia and Alexei." Student Sample Using APA Style.15. Writing in Class: Exams and ''Response'' Essays.Steps to Writing Well under Pressure. Problems to Avoid. Writing the Summary-and-Response Essay. Student Essay "Youth Service: An Idea Whose Time Has Come."16. Writing about Literature.Using Literature in the Composition Classroom. Suggestions for Close Reading of Literature. Steps to Reading a Story. Annotated Fiction: "The Story of an Hour" by Kate Chopin. Student Essay: "A Breath of Fresh Air." Steps to Reading a Poem. Annotated Poetry: "When I Heard the Learn''d Astronomer" by Walt Whitman. Student Essay: "Two Ways of Knowing." Fiction: "Gerald No Last Name" by Sandra Cisneros. Fiction: "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe. Poetry: "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden. Poetry: "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost.17. Writing about Visual Arts.Using Visual Arts in the Composition Classroom. Suggestions for Analyzing Paintings. Additional Advice about Sculpture and Photography. Guidelines for Writing about Art Works. Problems to Avoid. Annotated painting: Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. Student Essay "Night in the City and Psyche."18. Writing about Film.Using Film in the Composition Classroom. Guidelines for Writing about Film. Problems to Avoid. Student Essay: "Catch the Black Bird." Professional Film Review: "Cat in the Hat Coughs Up Mayhem" by David Germain. Glossary of Film Terms.19. Writing in the World of Work.Composing Business Letters. Sample Student Business Letter. Creating Memos. Sending Professional E-Mail. Designing Resumes. Sample Resume # 1. Sample Resume #2. Preparing Interview Notes and Post-Interview Letters.PART IV: A CONCISE HANDBOOK.20. Major Errors in Grammar.Verbs. Nouns. Pronouns. Adverbs and Adjectives. Modifying Phrases. Sentences.21. A Concise Guide to Punctuation.Period. Question Mark. Exclamation Point. Comma. Semicolon. Colon. Apostrophe. Quotation Marks. Parentheses. Brackets. Dash. Hyphen. Underlining. Ellipsis Points.22. A Concise Guide to Mechanics.Capitalization. Abbreviations. Numbers. Spelling. "Grammar''s Gremlins" from On Language by William Safire.PART V: ADDITIONAL READINGS.23. Exposition: Development by Example."Darkness at Noon" by Harold Krents. "Black Men and Public Space" by Brent Staples. "Why Don''t We Complain?" by William F. Buckley, Jr.24. Exposition: Process Analysis."The Jeaning of America" by Carin C. Quinn. "Skiing Lessons: The Cold, Hard Facts" by Dave Barry. "Beauty and the Beef" by Joey Green.25. Exposition: Comparison/Contrast."My Real Car" by Bailey White. "Say Farewell to Pin Curls" by Anna Quindlen. "Once More to the Lake" by E. B. White.26. Exposition: Definition."Celebrating Nerdiness" by Tom Rogers. "O the Porch" by Garrison Keillor. "What Is Poverty?" by Jo Goodwin Parker.27. Exposition: Division/Classification."Party Manners" by Richard Grossman. "The Extendable Fork" by Calvin Trillin. "College Pressures" by William Zinsser.28. Exposition: Causal Analysis."The Teacher Who Changed My Life" by Nicholas Gage. "Spudding Out" by Barbara Ehrenreich. "You Call This Progress?" by Seth Shostak.29. Argumentation."A Scientist: ''I Am the Enemy''" by Ron Kline. "Rethinking the Voting Age" by Ellen Goodman. "Judging by the Cover" by Bonny Gainley.30. Description."A Day at the Theme Park" by W. Bruce Cameron. "Hush, Timmy-This Is Like a Church" by Kurt Anderson. "The Way to Rainy Mountain" by N. Scott Momaday.31. Narration."38 Who Saw Murder Didn''t Call the Police" by Martin Gansberg. "Crossing the Great Divide" by Peter Fish. "The Talkies" by James Lileks.32. Essays for Further Analysis: Multiple Strategies and Styles."I Have a Dream" by Martin Luther King, Jr. "Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self" by Alice Walker. "A Modest Proposal" by Jonathan Swift.33. Literature. "Perhaps the World Ends Here" by Joy Harjo. "Ozymandias" by Percy Bysshe Shelley. "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen. "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky" by Stephen Crane. *"A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell.34. Writing and Language."How Mr. Dewey Decimal Saved My Life" by Barbara Kingsolver. "Notes on Punctuation" by Lewis Thomas. "Mother Tongue" by Amy Tan."

by Sara Lundquist

First of all, read it over and over. Read it out loud. Then read it out loud again. Practice different ways of placing emphasis to get the most meaning. (Poetry is a spoken art; it needs the human voice, your voice, to really live.)

All of the following can be part of a written explication, depending on the poem. Let the poem dictate to you. The extra dimension of poetry is in its insistence that meaning cannot be divorced from form. The purpose of an explication is to show, for an individual poem, how this is true. Therefore an explication is a discussion of the art and craft of language. An explication shows how the form deepens the meaning of the content.

Look up anything you don’t understand: an unfamiliar word, a place, a person, a myth, an idea. Look up words you DO understand, to help you articulate connotations. Become a dictionary addict. Make friends with the OED.

  1. State, very literally and in one or two sentences, what the poem is about. What is the most obvious statement you can make about the situation that the poem concerns itself with? Do not scare yourself with “deep meaning”: start literally. Paraphrase the poem.
  2. What is the emotion of the poem? How does the speaker feel about what he/she is talking about? What can you infer about this speaker, what kind of person is he/she? Remember that because most poems are about human beings they are often expressions of complicated, mixed, and conflicting emotions; always try thinking in terms of both/and rather than either/or. To whom is the speaker talking: to him/herself? to someone else? How does the audience of the poem affect it?
  3. Look at the poem. Describe the form of the poem, the design it makes on the page. For instance, is it divided into stanzas? Does it have long or short lines, or irregular? How does the form contribute to the content? Is it an inherited form (sonnet, sestina, etc.) or an invented one?
  4. Listen to the sounds of the poem. Does it rhyme? Does it use alliteration (repetition of beginning consonant sounds)? Does it have an interesting rhythm? What do the words sound like? Are they smooth, or harsh, or lilting, or dull? Do they move quickly or slowly?
  5. How did the poet organize the poem, and why? Is it a question and an answer? Is it a story? Is it a list? Is it a conversation? Is it a description? Where (emotionally speaking) does the poem begin and where does it end? Be willing to be surprised. Things often happen in poems to turn them around. A poem may seem to suggest one thing at first, then persuade you of its opposite, or at least of a significant change or qualification. Discuss the “journey” the poem takes from beginning to end.
  6. Be very alert to word choice. Discuss the kinds of language the poet uses. Are they simple and everyday words? words from a particular occupation or walk of life? are they slang words? abstract? philosophical? from religion, or sports, or banking? from the world of nature or love or domestic life, or politics or painting or childhood or computers or psychology or law? From what “world” of experience does a group of words derive? Be alert to unusual words or usual words used in an unusual way. Try to say why this word is effective, what kind of very particular meaning it communicates, what it suggests. Try substituting a synonym of the word and explain to yourself why the poet’s choice serves his/her purpose better. Look up the word in the OED and find out how old it is, what kind of journey it has taken to get to this poem.
  7. Be alert to repetitions of any kind: a repeated word, a repeated sound, a repeated idea, punctuation, part-of-speech, syntactical arrangement. Since repetition always serves to emphasize, what is being emphasized and why?
  8. Figurative language: What metaphors, similes, images does the poem use? When and why does the speaker use them? Keep in mind that a poet uses figurative language when more literal ways of speaking seem inadequate or inappropriate. Discuss what further dimensions of human experience can be delved into when the literal gives way to the figurative. (note well: both metaphors and similes are essentially comparisons: say what is being compared to what and why.)
  9. Meter??? Do you want to deal with it?
  10. Theme: take a stab at the poem’s theme. A poem’s subject will be its wonderfully particular, local, personal concerns; its “theme” will be that part of it that communicates more widely, that tries to say a “truth.” Be careful that you don’t reduce the poem to a cliché. Don’t turn corny or glib. Good poems record hard-won and sometimes devastating “truths.” Reading them well makes us struggle to know, feel, and express those things about living that are not easy to know, feel, or express.

Here is some of the specialized vocabulary of your profession; extremely beautiful and useful words.

verse paragraph
dramatic monologue
slant rhyme, off rhyme, half rhyme
internal rhyme

Sample explications:

© Sara Lundquist 2011

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