Rules for Reading a Poem • Do not read line by line. • Just because a line ends, that does not necessarily mean the sentence ends. • Read to the next punctuation mark, or determine if the line end is the end of the sentence. • Recognize that words may be out of order or inverted. • Rhyme scheme. • Rhythm. • Determine meaning. • Surface meaning: what the poem is about. • Deeper meaning: what meaning the poet tries to communicate; look deep into the poem and determine what meaning lies beneath the surface.
Understanding Vocabulary • Every word in a poem has meaning. • If you do not know the meaning of a word, you must look it up. • Understanding every word will help you to understand the meaning of the poem.
Steps to Reading a Poem • Read the poem once out loud to get a sense of it. • Poems are meant to be heard, not just read. • Read slowly, but keep going. • Identify the speaker. • The poet is not necessarily the speaker. • Just like in literature, poets create characters who speak their poems. Who is the personae? • Ask what the title, subject, and situation make you expect. Make a prediction.
Steps to Reading a Poem Cont’d • Argue and discuss the meaning of the poem. • Your interpretation may be different and that is okay! • Determine if the poem has a rhyme scheme or if it’s written in free verse. • Figure out the tone of the poem, the way the poet’s voice sounds toward the subject matter. • Does the poet use any figures of speech such as similes and metaphors?
Poetry and Music • If you have a favorite song, you have a favorite poem. All song lyrics are poems set to music. • Rap is a modern form of poetry! • Just like songs, poems can mean something different to each person. Song writers and poets want individuals to understand some basic ideas, but differences in meaning is encouraged.