Making Poetry Analysis Easier – Book Review

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I keep a library of books in my car to use with students. And the most beat up looking book in the bunch is Hip-hop Poetry And The Classics by Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli.

Let’s face it, many teens (and some adults) hate poetry. And often with reason; it can be a bear. But your teen is expected to understand it, analyze it and then write about it. My copy of Hip-hop Poetry And The Classics is dog-eared because it has been my go-to book for the past fifteen years when I need to make poetry easier and even a bit fun.

The authors of the book have taken classic poetry and put it side by side with current hip hop. They compare Dylan Thomas and Tupac Shakur, Shakespeare and Eminem. And they use a very user friendly workbook format to clearly and creatively explain poetic literary devices and analysis. Each section takes a literary element like mood or pattern and explains how each poem, classic and contemporary, uses that element. Then there are one page worksheets to practice explaining how each poem does this. The second half of the book is a series of poems and exercises for further practice (Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” is a favorite).

Yes, it’s additional work for your teen to use this book. But if you can sit with him and try out a couple of the exercises, it can be a really easy (and brief) way to explain a concept that has been hard for him to grasp.

Even if you hate hip hop (and don’t worry, there is no profanity or other inappropriate material in the book), your teen might enjoy it or at least be familiar with it. And using a book like this might help him feel like he could write the stuff himself (which is usually assigned at some point anyway).

At the very least he might be impressed by the fact that there’s a Kanye West quote on the back: “This book reveals the great artistry poets and rappers use and shows how hip-hop is the evolution of classic poetry.”

Disclosure: Please know that these links are affiliate links and that if you end up making a purchase, I will earn a small commision, at no additional cost to you. Rest assured that I have experience with this product and am recommending it because I genuinely feel that it’ll help you help your teen, not because I could make a commission.


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