Unseen Poetry In your exam, you have approximately 45 minutes to write a response to a poem that you have never seen before. Using the following technique is a good way to do well: SLOTO Subject Language Organisation Themes Opinion SLOTO: Subject Having read through the poem twice, decide what you think is actually happening in the poem. For example, perhaps it is a poem that is describing the horrible conditions a soldier faced in the trenches in WW1. SLOTO: Language Next, pick out any interesting/significant pieces of language that have been chosen by the poet and explain their effect. Perhaps this could be an individual word. For example: ‘And towards our distant rest began to trudge.’ Why choose the verb ‘trudge’? Why not ‘run’ or ‘walk’? ‘Trudge’ gives the impression that they’re tired; that moving is laboured and difficult. SLOTO: Language You should also look out for whole phrases and specific poetic devices that have been used. For example, similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia: ‘Knock-kneed, coughing like hags’. Why use this particular simile (comparison with like or as)? It gives the impression that war has aged young soldiers and makes them seem ill. SLOTO: Organisation How has the poem been structured? You could comment on the length of lines, the number of stanzas, the number of lines per stanza. Is a rhyme scheme used? Can you give any explanation for why the poet has structured it in the way that they have? SLOTO: Theme What overall messages or ideas are the poet trying to convey/raise through their poem? Maybe the subject of the poem is soldiers fighting in some trenches, so the themes could include: • War • Death • Suffering SLOTO: Opinion What is the poet’s opinion on the subject of the poem? For example, are they pro or anti war? Are they trying to suggest we should learn our lessons from past wars to avoid any more in the future? Are they critical of the government for going to war? This does not mean, what is your opinion of the poem.