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Students will learn how poets apply literary techniques affect theme and tone.

nann harwood

on 29 September 2014

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Applying the "How" of Poetry
Focusing on how poets create meaning through literature techniques
Even though we are discussing the way poets create meaning through the use of literary techniques, it is still important to use the four steps that were discussed in "Understanding the 'What' of Poetry.

Do you remember the four steps?
If not, maybe you should revisit them and put them in your notes?
If so, let's move forward.
Four-Steps of Reading Poetry
A standard process of applying the use of literary techniques is the TP-CASTT model.
Evaluating Poetry: TP-CASTT
TP-CASTT stands for

Title (yes, again)
As we have seen from "Understanding the 'What' of Poetry, the title of the poem is important to examine before reading the poem.

In this case, a reader should look at the title and come up with an idea of what the poem is about.

It is necessary to have an idea about the content of the poem because if the poem does not align with the reader's original idea of what the content is, then there is room to explore the reasons behind the misleading title at a later time.

For now, focus on creating meaning behind the title (if possible).
y now, you should have read the poem through several times so that you can paraphrase (or put the poem into your own words).

This step does not mean that you are telling the meaning of the poem. Instead, you are taking what has been said in the poem and rewording it so that it reflects your understanding of each line.

Please also note that paraphrasing does not equate to summarizing. Summarizing provides an overview of what happened.
Connotation: the feeling or association that a word or phrase evokes in addition to its literal meaning.

Denotation is the opposite of connotation. Denotation refers to the literal meaning.
It is important to understand the concept of connotation because poets often rely on the associations that readers have with certain words. Having these associations is what helps to create meaning as well.

Literary features that affect Connotation:
figurative language
Figurative Language: language not meant to be taken literally.

There are many types of figurative language, but we will focus on the main three that are found often within poetry:

Simile: comparison between two dissimilar things using "like" or "as"
Tim is as cunning as a fox.
Metaphor: comparison between two dissimilar things without using "like or "as"
Elizabeth considers Alexander a diamond in the rough.
Personification: the process of giving nonhuman objects human-like characteristics
The wind continually whispered in my ear as I was walking through the park.
Figurative Language
Symbol: the use of specific objects of images to represent abstract ideas

There are a variety of symbols used in literature, and some would argue that anything can be a symbol. However, the way that something becomes a symbol is when it is used repeatedly in a variety of genres by various authors and poets. There has to be validity to what someone believes is a symbol and why they believe it represents.

Remember, a symbol has to represent something.

Let's get an outsider's view of symbolism...
Imagery: the use of descriptive language to evoke a mental figures, images, or likenesses

In poetry, many times poets rely on the use of imagery so that readers can hear, see, feel, taste, or smell so that they feel a deeper connection with the content and, therefore, can create greater meaning.
Attitude is more technically related to "tone."

Do you remember what tone is from the previous Prezi?

Just in case, tone refers to the author's (or poet's) attitude toward his or her subject matter.

The tone comes out through the speaker of a poem, and the poet's word choice (or DICTION) help us understand even more so the tone that the poet is conveying.

After examining the elements of connotation of the poem, it should be even easier to accurately pinpoint the tone of the poem.
The shift of a poem occurs when there is a change in tone, subject, point of view, etc.

In most cases, a reader can observe a very obvious change in the tone (if it occurs). If a change in tone occurs, there is usually a close connection to the way it contributes to the theme of a poem.
At this point, it's time to reevaluate the title of the poem.

After reading the poem and going through the process of TP-CASTT to this point, a reader can discover whether his or her initial feelings about the title were true.
After going through all of the stages of TP-CASTT, readers must tackle the final element of THEME.

Theme refers to the overall message or central insight that the writer is trying to convey through his or her text.

Remember, it is up to you as the reader to decide exactly what the theme is. Also, remember, the theme is NOT what the poem is about. Instead, it is something deeper for the reader to uncover.
When determining what the theme of a text is, there are three components that must apply:

The theme must be something that is applicable to anyone.
The theme must be applicable to any time period. (Think of why we are still reading some of the "ancient" texts. What do they have to offer?)
Textual Reference
In order to be sure that the theme is accurate, there must be plenty of support from the text. If there is support from only one time example that does not come up again in a text, then that theme may need to be reevaluated.
Elements of Theme
"The Rose that Grew from Concrete"
by Tupac Shakur
1. Go through the first four steps of reading for the poem listed above so that you understand the what.
How much of a connection is there between the poet and this particular subject matter?
Be sure to ask questions if needed.
2. Apply the TP-CASTT model to the poem.
Have you answered some of the questions you may have had about the poem after the TP-CASTT process?
3. Now is the time for some additional questions to be asked, but let's first look at a video regarding this poem:
Remember that TP-CASTT is an easy way to get started with examining a poem.

From here, readers can go deeper to examine how the literary techniques employed by the poet contribute to the tone and theme of a poem.
Something that is helpful to understand is that you can focus on the tone and/or the theme of a poem when discussing it.
It is not always necessary write about both, but it is necessary to understand how they work together, especially tone's contribution to theme.
A Note about TP-CASTT
These are some questions for you to consider as you go back through the poem. If you have a printed copy, I hope you have been annotating it.
What are some abstract ideas that roses in general represent? Think of the color, the appearance, even the thorns. Why does Shakur use roses?
What does the concrete of the poem represent?
What does it mean that the rose grew from the crack, not a natural divide in the concrete?
What is "nature's law" and who or what do you think dictates this element of life according to the speaker?
Are there any other major symbols that you see in here?
You know the definition of personification, so what lines have examples of it?
Write down the specific line numbers.
It is important not only to be able to identify the concept but to also state its significance to the poem.

How do the examples that you listed of personification contribute to the overall effect of the poem?
Remember that diction refers to a writer's word choice. Poets choose their words carefully so that they are able to evoke the right feelings from their readers.

Diction affects tone in every way. How would you classify the tone of this poem, and what proof would you use to support it?

To support your choice of tone, pick specific words that prove your point.

Oh, and as a caution, avoid sticking with the simple "happy" or "sad" choice of adjectives to describe tone. Remember the video on tone? Notice how many words are available to describe the same feeling. It's time to "unpack your adjectives."
Now it's time to pull everything together to decide what themes emerge from the poem.
Why might Shakur use the words "long live," "ever," "funny"? How does each one contribute to the tone?
Questions to consider:
How does the use of specific symbols, personification, diction, and tone contribute to the overall meaning of the poem?
How effective is their usage?
How would the poem be different if they were not used, and would it be as effective?
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