New to the poetry club? Hey, me too!
I told myself 2018 was going to be the year of reading more poetry, and I’ve already read one: Milk and Honey.
But, poetry isn’t like any other book where you settle in and read a good chunk of the book in one sitting. Poetry is meant to be enjoyed little by little, dissecting every word, line and meaning behind the poem.
A poem is a verbal construct and a beautiful event in the human language.
Since I am still figuring it all out, and in celebration of National Poetry Month, I did a little research and found some tips on reading poetry that may help if you’re also dipping your toes into a new style of writing.
Ignore Your Assumptions. Try your hardest not to go into a poem thinking you’ll understand it in the first reading. Be open and ask questions the first time around, and don’t assume you’re cracking a code. The poem may have one meaning, it may have multiple meanings.
Read it out loud. Read the poem word for word. Read it more than once. Listen to the sounds. Do any of the words rhyme or sound similar? Is there a part of it that seems to have a rhythm that’s distinct from the rest of the poem?
Mark it up. Circle words, draw lines, write your thoughts in the margins, even add a smiley face or sad face. This will help you remember how you felt about it last time you read it, or what you couldn’t quite figure out.
Read between the lines. A natural approach is to focus on the words and punctuation, but poets use lines to their advantage. There is an interchange the grammar of a line, the rhythm of a line, and the way they are broken out.
Be open to more than one interpretation. You may not figure it out the first time. Or, you may come to an entirely different feeling or understanding the next time you read it.
After beginning my poetry journey, and researching more about how to read this unfamiliar writing style, I’m coming to find that poetry is a magical thing.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide to reading poetry: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/how-read-poem-0
Have your own tips to share when it comes to reading poetry? Please share them in the comments below!