The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry Test | Final Test - Hard

J. D. Mcclatchy
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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Edward Hirsch currently works as the head of which prestigious organization?

2. Rita Dove's work often blends history with which type of poetry?

3. Heather McHugh's work is often compared to the work of ______.

4. Mary Oliver believed that the majority of her poems were ______.

5. Which of the poets was born in the south but uses a northern perspective?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Mary Oliver's style? How does Mary Oliver incorporate nature into her work? What unique gift does Oliver have as a poet?

2. Examine the theme and meaning contained in Rita Dove's "Adolescence - II." How does the theme link to Dove's other work?

3. How does Ellen Bryant Voigt compare poetry to music? Why does Voigt make this comparison? In which part of the poem is the comparison most evident?

4. Examine Kay Ryan's opinion on inevitable change. What point is Ryan attempting to make?

5. What unique gift is expressed in Philip Levine's work? What prompted this style and choice of theme? What are some of Levine's poems included in his section?

6. What themes are most often seen in Gary Snyder's work? What does Snyder credit with helping him focus on the inner world?

7. Examine the theme of acceptance and the passing of time as it appears in Jorie Graham's work.

8. What prompted Anne Sexton to begin writing poetry? What was Sexton's style? What are some characteristics of Sexton's style?

9. Where was Charles Simic born? How did his youth affect his poetry? What themes are often seen in Simic's work? What technique is often used by Simic?

10. What first inspired Charles Wright to write poetry? Where was Wright at the time? How can Wright's early work be characterized? How did Charles Wright's work evolve?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Many of the poems contained in the book used dreams or the unconscious as a source of material for poetry. Examine the poems in the collection, and choose at least three to use as a reference. Which do you feel is most effective in its use of the unconscious as a tool? Explain. Is there a scientific connection between dreaming and the conscious? Could those concepts and images seen in dreaming be captured in a waking state? If so, how?

Essay Topic 2

Discuss juxtaposition and how it might help or hinder a poet's work. How does one choose the appropriate items or subjects to juxtapose? Write two poems - one with effective juxtaposition and one where the juxtaposition fails to make the poem interesting, distinct, or understood. Also examine at least one of the poems included by Allen Ginsberg and Charles Simic to better understand the use of juxtaposition.

Essay Topic 3

William Meredith and Robert Pinsky both believed that effective poetry could be created by focusing on ordinary things. However, those ordinary things were mixed with extraordinary language. Why is it important to use unusual words or a combination of words as a powerful tool to create vivid poetry? How do Meredith and Pinsky accomplish this task? Why are these tools and techniques valuable? What can be learned from employing these techniques in reference to topics that might otherwise seem mundane?

(see the answer keys)

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