2017/03/28

BOOKISH REFLECTIONS:
TIPS ON READING POETRY

Not too long ago, I did a post with Tips on Reading Classics, and as I know a lot of people find it a bit difficult to read poetry as well, I thought I would give you some tips for reading that too.

I think poetry is wonderful, but for a very long time, the only exposure I had had to it was at school and we all know what that's like (you know, boring and soul sucking). So, I had always sort of avoided it, thinking that it definitely wasn't for me, until I stumbled upon Edgar Allan Poe in my early twenties and fell in love.


Discovering Poe was the way in for me, but I don't think it's the way for everyone. It also made me scoff a bit at so called "modern poetry", because surely it couldn't be anything like they wrote back in the day. Then I read Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur, and my eyes were opened once again.

I love reading poetry now, but I must admit I do still find it difficult sometimes to find collections that truly speak to me. I'd say of all the genres I read, the poetry genre is the one I read the most things I don't like, in search of finding things that do touch me. This can be slightly disheartening at times, but honestly, it's always worth the search, because when I find the right book, it moves me in a way other types of writing doesn't.

So, I thought I would share some tips with you, if you're new to poetry, or if you've had bad luck in the past and given up.


#1 Find the Right Poetry For You
Like I mentioned, this might not be that easy, but I would recommend perusing a bit online. You can find loads of classical poetry alongside modern poetry and read a bit here and there. Read poetry that rhymes, poetry that deal with things you like, poetry that has no form and all sorts of different things. If you find a poet you like the voice of, maybe you could try a full collection, see what you think and go from there.

Personally, I like to read a bit of everything, but if classical poetry isn't for you, then it isn't for you. If modern poetry isn't, then it isn't. There's no need to force it. 

#2 Read It Aloud
A lot of poetry sounds better when read aloud, because sometimes it's hard to find rhythm in the things you read in your head. Sometimes the beauty of a poem is revealed only when you hear it. You might feel a bit silly at first and it might take you a few tries to get it right, but it's definitely worth trying.

#3 Not All Poetry Is Meant To Be Read
A lot of it is meant to be listened to. Maybe give spoken word poets a try? You might like both one or the other, or both. There's tons and tons of stuff online you can look through, or you could be even more daring and go to a local spoken word night. Don't knock it until you've tried it!


#4 To Analyze or Not To Analyze
A lot of us are introduced to poetry at school, and because of the way we read it there, a lot of us automatically tie poetry in with something that needs to be picked apart and analyzed. If you want to do this with poetry, you definitely can (it's especially easy with older poetry, as you can find other people's thoughts in books and on the Internet), but it's not mandatory. If you don't get it, it doesn't mean you have to sit down with a notepad and pick it to bits. If you don't get it, you can just let it go and move on to something else.

#5 Remember You're Allowed an Opinion
I see this a lot: because a person is not an English major or hasn't read this poet or that poet, they feel like they're not allowed to have an opinion on what they're reading. I think this is a bit because of the way "poetry enthusiasts" have a tendency to shame others (it's the same with people who just cannot believe you haven't read that one particular classic), and a bit of it is because one may feel unsure in new waters. I think that's perfectly normal, but I think it's important to remember that you're allowed to think things, no matter what standpoint you're viewing something from. You might not have the same viewpoint as someone who has studied a lot of literature, or someone who just happens to read a lot of poetry, but it doesn't make your opinion less valid. You just happen to be coming from a different place, and that's fine. 


I hope this was somewhat helpful if you're looking for some tips! If you're interested in reading some of my reviews of different poetry collections, you can find them here.

What do you guys think? Do you read poetry, and if you do or you don't, why?
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5 comments

  1. Interesting post! I've never read poetry before but really want to get into it so I ordered 'The anatomy of being' last week. I'm really curious!

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    1. Glad you think so! Haven't heard of that collection but I hope you enjoy it! xx Alice

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  2. That was a lovely list! I always had a bit of trouble getting into poetry but I've become more and more interested in it over the past years. I enjoy the ones that rhyme a lot (often the silly ones) but also Plath and I'm actually currently reading Poe :D I totally agree with the reading out loud. Once I've started doing that I found it much easier to concentrate on the poem and to figure out a possible meaning.

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    1. Thank you! I hope you enjoy Poe, and all the silly poems in the world (have you read Shel Silverstein? He's one of my faves!) :D

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    2. I have only read The Giving Tree by Silverstein (I don't even think that was a poem though, right?) and I didn't like that one at all (because of the content) but maybe I should give some of his other things a try ;)

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