Reading Poems for Dummies

This is an old post from the beginning of the quarter and thought I would resurface it as we are ending the quarter.

When reading a poem do not over think it. Read it aloud and try to find a rhythm. Hearing the words out loud brings attention to rhymes and patterns which can make the poem easier to read and understand.  While reading one can often feel a tone or flow and then proceed reading accordingly. Another aspect to be aware of is line breaks. Where the author decides to break the phrase or start anew can put emphasis on something important and also creates a flow for you to read with. Sometimes knowing some background information about the author and their poems can be helpful to finding understanding. I think a lot of people are intimidated by the idea of poetry. That poems are for the the elite and highly educated who use metaphors and similes in their everyday language. But keep hope my friends, yes some poems are written by by deep intellectuals but there are silly and rhyming ones as well as many in between. So do not be overwhelmed. Take it one word, phrase and stanza at a time. Shel Silverstein wrote a short poem titled “Masks”. This is an excellent product of thought out line breaks and rhyming. Give it a read-


She had blue skin,

And so did he.

He kept it hid

And so did she.

They searched for blue

Their whole life through,

Then they passed right by-

And never knew

-Shel Silverstein

-Hannah Stanton


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