"The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica" TPCASTT Analysis

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"The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica" - TP-CASTT


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Activity Overview

Poetry is one of the most expressive forms of literature. It can evoke emotions, set a mood, tell a story, or create a feeling that can be deeply and universally understood by its readers. This makes it even more important to be able to expound its elements and understand its rich meaning, comparisons, and symbols. Teaching students to look at a poem with an order of operation in mind will greatly help them to understand and see beyond the literal words. Using the TPCASTT method is the perfect way to get students reading and analyzing with little assistance from the instructor.

TPCASTT is a great way to teach students to dissect a poem and understand its part and deeper meaning. TPCASTT is an order of operations similar to PEMDAS for Math. It asks students to list items in sequentially and answer questions based on their reading of the poem.

TP-CASTT Analysis
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TPCASTT Example for "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica"



“The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica” is, perhaps, about a place that the speaker visits frequently.


The poem describes a store where Latinos gather. Despite their differences, many Latinos in the United States find themselves connected by their experiences and life in America. The speaker of the poem mentions the specific foods and customs of various Latino groups that visit the deli, what makes them unique, and what ties them together. As the customers express memories of their home countries and their American Dreams, a sense of unity is conveyed for all people of Latino heritage.


The poem expresses both uniqueness and individuality among Hispanic backgrounds. It also conveys a complex feeling of homesickness and nostalgia, and how these feelings are mediated through the food the deli sells.


Ortiz Cofer achieves her tone with words that suggest a strong tie to the past, such as ancient, exiles, lost lovers, stale, old man, and “places that now exist only in their hearts”. Her word choice presents an attitude of longing for something that once was. The tone is nostalgic for the past and for the cultures of the people in the poem.


No shift occurs.


After reading the poem my interpretation of the title was correct. The speaker romanticizes a Latino deli where members from various Hispanic backgrounds gather.


The theme of the poem is one of unity; despite coming from various background, their common language and their experience as immigrants create a bond for among these Latinos in the United States.

This is a great activity to have students do in a small group! Once they are finished, ask them to create a storyboard with the TPCASTT steps.

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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Perform a TPCASTT analysis of "The Latin Deli: An Ars Poetica". Remember that TPCASTT stands for Title, Paraphrase, Connotation, Attitude/Tone, Shift, Title, Theme.

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Choose any combination of scenes, characters, items, and text to represent each letter of TPCASTT.
  3. Write a few sentences describing the importance or meaning of the images.
  4. Finalize images, edit, and proofread your work.

TPCASTT Template


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