This is a poetry research essay assignment that I have done with sophomores, but it could be done with any level of high school students. It focuses on the skills of using biographical criticism (making connections between a writer's life and his/her work), as well as research skills.
This piece includes the prompt and instructions for the essay, a sample essay, directions for an activity to use when looking at the sample essay, and a sample Works Cited page. For the activity directions, I wrote the directions to be read by the teacher to the students, but they could also be distributed to the students and they could use the directions to look at the essay in groups. I highlighted elements of essay writing that high school students typically have trouble with (writing a thesis statement, topic sentences, embedding quotes, etc.) in the activity directions; the model essay can be used as a teaching tool to go over those concepts.
The rubric I use to grade this essay can also be purchased; it is listed as "Poetry Research Essay Rubric."