Introduction to Poetry

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					Introduction to Poetry

  How do we read poetry?
    You are reading this too fast.
You are reading this too fast.                   What is happening?
Slow down, for this is poetry                    Slow down, slow down,
and poetry works slowly.                         take a few deep breaths,
Unless you live with it a while                  read the poem slowly,
the spirit will never descend.                   read the lines one at a time.
It’s so easy to quickly cut across the surface   read the words one by one,
and then claim there was nothing to find.        read the spaces between the
Touch the poem gently with your eyes                 words,
just as you would touch a lover’s flesh.         get sleepy, this is poetry,
Poetry is an exercise in patience,               relax until your heart
You must wait for it to come to you.             is vulnerable, wide open.
The spirity manifests in many guises;
some quiver with beauty,
some vibrate with song.                          - Ken Norris
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Who is the speaker in he poem? Are the
  speaker and the poet one and the same? Is
  there more than one speaker?
• Is the poet using an identifiable persona as
  the speaker?
  – What is a persona you ask?
  – When the poet creates a character to be the
    speaker, that character is called the persona and
    the poet imagines what it is like to enter someone
    else's personality. For example: the voice of an
    elderly person, a young child or a historical
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• To whom, if anyone, is this poem
  addressed? How does the intended
  audience for the poem affect how we
  understand it?
  – Imagine the speaker expressing the
    meaning of the poem to one intended
    audience. Now picture the speaker talking
    to another possible audience. How does
    this “look” to you? Does it make sense?
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• What is the dominant tone of the
  poem? Can you identify the poet’s
  attitude toward the subject matter?
  – Ex// amused, judgmental, ecstatic…
• Can you identify the poet’s attitude
  toward the audience?
  – Ex// respectful, sarcastic, frustrated,
Questions to Ask Yourself?
• Is there an identifiable plot? Is an
  event or occasion being described? Is
  the poem set in any particular time or
  – Ex// Is the poem about war? Is it about
    death? Which war it is about?
• Does the poem make sense on a literal
  level? Are there any parts that doesn’t
  make sense? Is this related to its
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Does the poet make generalizations? If
  so, do these seem to be true only within
  the context of the poem?
  – What do we mean by context?
  – Is it a feminist poem? Does it speak to
    Marxist ideals? Is it about a specific time
    period? Is it about a specific situation, like
    a relationships or breakup…
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Do any words or phrases stand out? Has the
  poet used diction (word choice) to good
• What level of diction is being used?
  – Formal, informal, slang…
• After reading through the poem several times,
  can you identify a specific mood? How does
  this poem make you feel? Do you think this is
  how the poet intended you to feel?
Questions to Ask Yourself…
• Most importantly!
• Has reading this poem
  given you any fresh
  insights or
  perspectives? What
  are they and how do
  they compare to ideas
  you had before?

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