How do I write an essay comparing and contrasting "The Sunday News" by Dana Gioia with "Catching Up" by Jeff Holt? What do I need to cover and how should I organize the essay?  

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Your introductory paragraph should discuss the overarching thematic similarities between the poems, mentioning that they both appear to be poems in which the narrator is encountering, in some way, a person from his past. You should also mention that both poems are written in fairly traditional verse forms, using first person narrators, but nonetheless differ in significant ways. 

Your first body paragraph might address the formal qualities of the poems, in particular, Holt's use of the sonnet form and Gioia's use of somewhat looser quatrains. Rather than just discussing literary technique, you might also focus on how Holt's work is far more metrically strict, but has a more colloquial tone and setting, but Gioia's poem uses a looser form but more ornate diction. 

The next section might discuss the narrators and setting, especially as they are constructed by diction. Holt's poem uses a simple vocabulary and is set in a lower-middle class or working class environment of a grubby diner or fast food restaurant, while Gioia's setting and vocabulary seem more upper-middle class, with the sort of educated narrator who not only uses an elaborate vocabulary but reads the Sunday paper rather than surfing the web or watching football.

Your next body paragraph should analyze the relationships being discussed, the old friend of Holt's poem and the ex-lover of Gioia's, and the different ways in which the narrators react to their current distance from those people.

In your conclusion, you should look at how comparing the poems illuminates each poem individually and makes readers think about the poems in ways they would not have thought about the poems considered individually.  

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