You will find poetry nowhere unless you bring some of it with you.~Joseph Joubert
Reading Poetry What is a poem? • A poem is a concise verbal snapshot of a poet’s thoughts. Poems work through the images they paint, the sounds they create, and the ideas they communicate.
Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821
The Elements of a Poem • Poets combine sounds, images, and shapes to make a unique creation in words that communicate with you, the reader. The Music of Poetry: Its Sounds • Poetry needs to be read aloud. As you read, listen for words that rhyme and for a rhythm you can tap your fingers to, like music. Listen for words that imitate sounds you hear around you. And listen for letter sounds that repeat.
Poetry is when words sing. ~6 year old boy
The Elements of a Poem The Images of Poetry: Its Pictures • As you read poetry, let the poet’s words paint pictures in your mind. Poet’s use sensory images to appeal to sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. • Poets often use comparisons that give you new ways of looking at familiar things.
The Elements of a Poem The Structure of Poetry: Its Shape • Pay attention to how the poet has placed the words on the page. A new stanza or verse may signal a change of focus or of tone. The poet may repeat lines or words to emphasize important ideas.
How to Read a Poem Think of reading a poem as having a conversation with the poet. • Get Ready • Look it over • Read the title & think about what it suggests
How to Read a Poem Get to Know the Poem • Read it through • Pay attention to the punctuation • Listen to the sounds of the words • Read the poem again slowly, out loud • Look up any unfamiliar words • Visualize what the poem is about
How to Read a Poem Getting Into the Poem • List things that catch your attention (repetitions, comparisons, rhymes, images, sounds). • Pick one line that best represents what you think the poem is about. • Talk about the poem. Share ideas. • Listen to the tone of voice (For example, is the tone teasing, serious, or angry?) • Think about who is speaking in the poem. • What does the poem mean to you?
Responding to a Poem • How did you feel as you read the poem? • What do you think of the poet’s ideas? Do you agree? Why or why not?
Responding to a Poem • What are your favourite images in the poem? Why did you choose them? • What do you think of the sound of the poem – its rhyme, its rhythm, and the words used?
Responding to a Poem • How does the poem connect with your personal life? • What would you say to the poet about this poem if you had a chance?
Responding to a Poem • What do you think the poem is saying?
Discussing Poetic Language • Poets choose their words carefully for specific meaning, sounds, tone, emotional power, and the picture it paints. Language effects commonly used in poetry consists of… • Imagery • Figures of Speech • Sound Devices • Building Mood • Vivid Language • Seem familiar?
Imagery ReviewingLanguage Used in Poetry • Poets use imagery often in creating poetry. • Recall imagery appeals to our five senses: hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Some images may appeal to more than one sense, and not every poem will necessarily have images that appeal to all of the senses.
Reviewing Language Used in Poetry Figures of Speech • Similes • Remember, similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare. • For example, “The snowflakes were like lace.” • Metaphors • Remember, metaphors state a comparison without using the words “like” or “as”. • For example, “The sun is a flaming torch in the desert sky.” • Allusions • Allusion are references to a person or place, or a literary text or character that exists outside the text itself. • For example, “His strengths were herculean.” (a reference to Hercules in Roman mythology ; a man of great strength) • Personification • Remember, personification is the description of an object as if it has human qualities or abilities. • For example, “The wind whispered in the trees.”
Sound Devices Reviewing Language used in Poetry • Alliteration • Remember, alliteration is the repetition of a sound made by a consonant. • For example, “sweetly singing softly” • Onomatopoeia • Remember, onomatopoeia is the use of a word to imitate the sound it names. • For example, “buzz,” “plink,” “sizzle”
Building Mood More Poetic Language to Consider • Right from the beginning a poet can build mood. Mood establishes the feelings or emotions that the poet is wishing to communicate to the audience. Word choice, placement on the page, and incorporating suspense can all build the mood of a poem. Vivid Language • Exciting verbs (action words), descriptive adjectives (words that illustrate nouns), and expressive phrases all contribute to a poet’s vivid use of language.
Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow.
Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die repetition Life is a broken-winged bird alliteration That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go metaphor metaphor Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. rhyming words: die-fly, go-snow
How to approach a Poem: Summary • Listen for sounds (alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm) • Look for images/pictures, and sensory details • Examine the structure, shape, and punctuation • Search for figures of speech (similes, metaphors, personification) • Connect the ideas in the poem to your own personal thoughts and impressions
A poem is never finished, only abandoned. ~Paul Valéry
Information from Reading and Writing for Success by Lynn Archer, Cathy Costello, and Debbie Harvey Toronto: Harcourt Canada (1997)
Other Sources • Dreams by Langston Hughes. Crane, M., Fullerton, B., & Joseph, A. (2000). SightLines 10 (Prentice Hall Literature Series). Toronto: Prentice Hall Canada. • Images provided by: 2010 Thinkstock • Quotations provided by: • http://neboliterature.mrkdevelopment.com.au/poetry/poetry-index.htm • http://www.quotegarden.com/poetry.html