Please explain how to annotate poetic lines by using the following lines.Annotate: she looks for the swing in cities with fifteen suburbs and tries to be innocent about it

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Annotation is really a simple function of reading interactively though it has an imposing sounding name derived from a Latin word meaning to add notes to or to note or mark. And that is precisely what you do in annotation: you add notes to pages; you note pivotal information; you mark significant words or phrases. Note however (play on words ...) that annotation is not highlighting text with long underlinings. That is called simply "highlighting."

The modes of annotation to choose from, as spelled out by M. Keeley of Buck Community College Tutoring Center, are:

  • Underlining an important single word or short phrase; e.g., underlining the phrase "to add notes to"
  • Circling definitions or the meaning of terms; e.g., encircling "reading interactively"
  • Writing key words and definitions in the margins of pages; e.g., in the page margin you might write "add notes, mark; NOT highlight"
  • Signalling important information by a symbol or key word in the margin; e.g., @ by "modes"
  • Writing short summaries or important lists at page-end or sub-unit end; e.g., list: underline, circle, margins, signal, summaries
  • Writing questions you have or that you have to answer in the margin next to the relevant section; e.g., What is the difference between underling and highlighting?
  • Indicating steps in a process or parts of a subset with numbers in the margin by the relevant steps or parts; e.g., 1 2 3 4

One practical first step in annotating these lines you've quoted is to circle ambiguous or unclear words, then add notes about their meanings.

she looks for the swing
in cities with fifteen suburbs
and tries to be innocent
about it

Circle "swing" and "innocent." These two words each have multiple meanings that are very different one to the other. For instance, "swing" is a child's toy, a musical genre, a slang expression for party life. Similarly, "innocent" demotes purity of mind or guiltlessness and can be literal or metaphorical. After looking these up and deciding the meaning or dual meanings intended, annotate further by writing this or these meanings in the margin.

A good next step would be to quickly research the definition and essential nature of "suburb," then note your result followed by a summary of your analysis of the vague and symbolically metaphorical line "in cities with fifteen suburbs." Either the margins or page-top or -end are good spaces for these notes depending on length. For instance, you might annotate this with margin symbols corresponding to matching symbols by your two page-end notes.

Then you might note questions you might have about the text, such as, "Why would she try to be / need to be innocent looking about her activities?" Finally, you might draft a summary of your whole analysis at the page-end lest it be as elusive as this verse and slip away.