Biography Based on American Literature

Writer Presentation Guidelines

You will present a lively, colorful portrait of your writer to the class. This includes writing in your own words – not simply repeating what you’ve read in another way – what you have learned and found interesting about the poet. We don’t need to know every boring detail you can read on the internet; we want to hear the juicy interesting bits! For example, did you know that the children’s author, Shel Silverstein used to write for Playboy Magazine and was a respected jazz musician? Dr. Seuss supposedly wasn’t fond of children and smoked like a chimney? Well, I didn’t either until some smart students dug into their research and located interviews and articles not found on the internet!

This is your job – to give us an overview about your writer’s life, where he or she was placed in the history of American literature, AND to tell us some fun facts about the poet as well as to introduce the writer’s work to us so that we are tempted to read it! That’s three things – 1.) a brief life overview 2.) fun and even “gossipy” details and

  1. ) Tempt us to read the poetry with a wonderful, sexy introduction to their work!

Biographical – Include a few paragraphs, written in your own words, giving us important highlights of the writer’s life. What time period was he / she writing in? Did the writer associate with other poets?
What type of work does /did the writer do for a living? Where did he / she spend his / her days? What was the writer’s home life like?
Sexuality? Etc.

Creative Writing – Discuss, in several paragraphs, the type of work the writer wrote. Do not simply PARROT (i.e. imitate) what others have written about the poet’s work. What type of poetry do you think the writer wrote? What were some common themes? Did the writer favor a particular style? What was happening in the world at the time he / she was writing? What do you like about his / her style? Dislike? Include a couple of excerpts from some work so that we get a sense of the writer’s work.

Interviews / writing – Again, a few paragraphs. Did you locate any? Or any articles in which the writer is quoted? Did the writer say anything funny? Poignant? Worthwhile? Include some excerpts from any of these interviews that you think give us better insight into the writer. Also, did the writer discuss writing ever? Include any quotes or insight into what the writer thought about writing!

Public life – A few paragraphs. Did the writer have a cause? Engage in any activism? Fight for social or political change? Did their writing

reflect his or her engagement with the world in any significant way? Did the writer know and / or associate with anyone important? Did he
/ she try to help others outside of his / her work and writing life?

Etcetera – Include anything I have not already asked that you think is worth repeating! Remember, you are trying to interest us in your writer and what you’ve learned about this writer as a person!

  • Minimum 4 pages typed, double-spaced, Times New Roman 12 point font – excluding excerpts! Must be in MLA format, including header and correct parenthetical citations as well as an additional Works Cited page.

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