This question should be on the discussion board so that you can get a wider variety of answers.
I've always found that one of the best ways to start an answer is to rephrase the question. For instance, in a test on the play Antigone, a question might be: Who does Antigone blame for her terrible misfortune? I would begin my answer by stating what that misfortune is, continue by describing how Antigone feels about it and herself, and then discussing who she blames for it and why.
More specifically to your question about how to answer a question about poetry, I would most likely start my answer this way: In the poem "XXXX," John Doe describes....
I hope this helps you.