English Literature and Composition
AP Annual Conference Submission
Even the most sophisticated readers in our AP English Literature classrooms sometimes will struggle to understand a poem. In fact, it is our duty to present our students with rich and challenging texts in order to train them to analyze complexity in both meaning and craft. But you don’t need to be a literature professor to mine the mysteries of a poem. Sometimes all we need to know we can learn from a two-bit gumshoe. From Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock to Robert B Parker’s Spenser, fictional detectives have solved enigmatic mysteries by adhering to a small number of simple rules and principles. Some of these same rules, principles, and questions can help our students “solve” enigmatic poems. In this session, Blake Taylor (Walnut Hills High School) and Nichole Wilson (William Mason High School), two veteran AP English Literature teachers and fans of detective fiction, will model these simple techniques and will show how our students can use them to solve any poetic mystery.