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Thread: how to read poetry

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    Default how to read poetry

    when you have a book of poetry do you read it from front to back? do you skip around a lot?
    do you think about and interpret the meaning? do you read certain lines over and over analyzing the metaphor? do you just sort of skim and feel it like music? do you visualize anything? do you pay attention to the sound and cadence of the words as though they were said aloud? do you read it out loud? is it important to know what the artist was trying to convey? is your personal interpretation more important? should it be like an "interpretation," and mental, or should it be more like a feeling?

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    i usually read it too fast and skip over lines looking for some baseline of summarizeable meaning, which i guess means i completely miss the point.

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    i feel like i either get it or i don't, and by "getting it" i mean like... i don't need to think about it and i already know and feel what it means.

    when i don't get it i try to pick it apart mentally and i get frustrated because i feel like i'm ruining it that way and that if i don't just "get it" then its pointless to try. so then i go in the opposite direction and just read without thinking, trying to soak it up like music and that's better; i feel more confident feeling than analyzing, but i wonder if i should be smart enough to understand the meaning in an articulable way, too.

    i want to be better at it, lol.

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    i guess not all poetry is written for everyone. once you've sort of realized that a particular piece of writing is "not for you" it's pointless to force it.

    ... that being said its probably possible to expand your horizons a bit; but it should preferably be a fluid process.

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    I look for the sentences I like that look fun ...and I skip the rest. I just do not have the patience for it.

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    When I first get a new book I'll open it up to a random page and start reading from there, unless there is a title poem.

    Imo it's very important to read it out loud and drink in the sounds and rhythm first. They have been purposefully written in, so if you don't do this you lose half the poem's impact. It's nice to get the tongue and mouth dancing to it anyway, but also helps you pick up on phonetic intricacies. I'm a synaesthete so I get different sensations from the words. I visualise in my mind's eye but also I taste and smell things from it. You should be able to do this with a good poem I think.

    Certain phrases and lines will jump out and give me a nice feeling and I'll roll them about for a bit but then go back to the whole thing and pick it apart. I don't think analysis is important for a person to enjoy poetry in theory, although I've come across a lot of people who seek meaning without trying to appreciate a poem at a visceral level, struggle to interpret it straight away, get frustrated and bad-mouth poetry forever more. Same goes with art.

    Personally when I'm reading I'm also trying to help hone my own technique, so I want to know why the poet used a to create effect b instead of doing c and d. Sometimes when my critic mind starts dissecting I accidentally cut off the wings of a poem and have to wait a while to enjoy it again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post

    when i don't get it i try to pick it apart mentally and i get frustrated because i feel like i'm ruining it that way and that if i don't just "get it" then its pointless to try. so then i go in the opposite direction and just read without thinking, trying to soak it up like music and that's better; i feel more confident feeling than analyzing, but i wonder if i should be smart enough to understand the meaning in an articulable way, too.
    The feeling is where the magic happens

    What kinds of poets do you like reading?

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    Quote Originally Posted by squirreltual View Post
    The feeling is where the magic happens

    What kinds of poets do you like reading?
    i'm not sure, i'm drawn to certain poems but then when i track down books by those poets i can't find the same magic in all of them. except for this poet friend i had in school. there was a writer i found on tumblr recently that i was intoxicated by. this isn't helpful, lol.

    charles bukowski is probably my favorite but i've only read his more famous ones on the internet and haven't attempted an entire collection.
    i remember liking ee cummings a lot years ago but its been awhile.
    i really like a few poems by neruda, especially sonnet 11.
    i like jenny holzer if that counts.
    i like fiona apple lyrics which i guess she originally wrote as poetry.

    that's all i can think of otoh, i'm not familiar with many.

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    You're supposed to read it with compassion for the author or something.

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    what is poetry

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    i'm not sure, i'm drawn to certain poems but then when i track down books by those poets i can't find the same magic in all of them. except for this poet friend i had in school. there was a writer i found on tumblr recently that i was intoxicated by. this isn't helpful, lol.
    That's because a particular one out of the entire repertoire managed to speak to you. It tells a miniature tale about you, whereas other, don't. No magic, then.

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    I obsessively do the scansion.
    "[Scapegrace,] I don't know how anyone can stand such a sinister and mean individual as you." - Maritsa Darmandzhyan

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    scansion?

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    when i have a book of poetry i either end up donating it or use it to weigh some loose papers down.

    basically, i never read poetry.

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    Quote Originally Posted by squirreltual View Post
    When I first get a new book I'll open it up to a random page and start reading from there, unless there is a title poem.

    Imo it's very important to read it out loud and drink in the sounds and rhythm first. They have been purposefully written in, so if you don't do this you lose half the poem's impact. It's nice to get the tongue and mouth dancing to it anyway, but also helps you pick up on phonetic intricacies. I'm a synaesthete so I get different sensations from the words. I visualise in my mind's eye but also I taste and smell things from it. You should be able to do this with a good poem I think.

    Certain phrases and lines will jump out and give me a nice feeling and I'll roll them about for a bit but then go back to the whole thing and pick it apart. I don't think analysis is important for a person to enjoy poetry in theory, although I've come across a lot of people who seek meaning without trying to appreciate a poem at a visceral level, struggle to interpret it straight away, get frustrated and bad-mouth poetry forever more. Same goes with art.

    Personally when I'm reading I'm also trying to help hone my own technique, so I want to know why the poet used a to create effect b instead of doing c and d. Sometimes when my critic mind starts dissecting I accidentally cut off the wings of a poem and have to wait a while to enjoy it again.
    Let's get married!

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    I think poems always sound better in my head then when some turgid stiff pretentious person reads it out loud.

    I don't like the way most people speak including myself and I prefer to communicate telepathically.... (or by typing)

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    Wait.. you read poetry for fun? I hadn't read any poetry since my first year English class (a long time ago).

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    Quote Originally Posted by lemontrees View Post
    Let's get married!
    yay! Squirreltual. ILE. Confirmed. We should book Absurd as the drunk rambling priest.

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    Well, this is strange. I felt a tiny wave of jealousy because apparently I like you both. wtf

    Just one of my weird psychedelic hangovers. Take it with a pound of salt.

    I'll so regret admitting admitting this later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by squirreltual View Post
    yay! Squirreltual. ILE. Confirmed. We should book Absurd as the drunk rambling priest.
    I now pronounce you ILE and SEI. Sign here.



    Next.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozz View Post
    Wait.. you read poetry for fun? I hadn't read any poetry since my first year English class (a long time ago).
    I had to read it in grade school as well. It's over. Cool.

    The Fiddler saws the strings,
    His light brown hair he tosses and flings.
    He carries a sabre at his side,
    He wears a pleated habit wide.
    "Fiddler, why that frantic sound?
    Why do you gaze so wildly round?
    Why leaps your blood, like the surging sea?
    What drives your bow so desperately?"
    "Why do I fiddle? Or the wild waves roar?
    That they might pound the rocky shore,
    That eye be blinded, that bosom swell,
    That Soul’s cry carry down to Hell."
    "Fiddler, with scorn you rend your heart.
    A radiant God lent you your art,
    To dazzle with waves of melody,
    To soar to the star-dance in the sky."
    "How so! I plunge, plunge wihout fail
    My blood-black sabre into your soul.
    That art God neither wants nor wists,
    It leaps to the brain from Hell’s black mists.
    "Till heart’s bewitched, till senses reel:
    With Satan I have struck my deal.
    He chalks the signs, beats time for me,
    I play the death march fast and free.
    "I must play dark, I must play light,
    Till bowstrings break my heart outright."
    The Fiddler saws the strings,
    His light brown hair he tosses and flings.
    He carries a sabre at his side,
    He wears a pleated habit wide.

    That is one of a few I came upon in Uni when preparing to an exam in philosophy of politics.
    Last edited by Absurd; 09-14-2012 at 07:13 PM.

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    i found the tumblr i was talking about!

    http://birthed.tumblr.com/

     

    I love imprints on skin,
    they’re like stamps – verification;
    I am here, please
    touch and
    dig in to me.
    A stranger scratches me by accident:
    I am real.
    Bite me and beat me.


    I had my hands on her shoulders;
    I wanted to pinch,
    to make an imprint,
    I wanted to be in her skin forever.
    I wouldn’t mind if after we kissed
    she dislocated her jaw
    and swallowed me whole -
    carry me with her everywhere she’d go.
    We only kissed the once
    but I don’t mind
    because I tasted her cherry mouth
    and I felt her kitten tongue
    and she went to bed alone
    with just me on her lips.


    We have the same voice
    we have the same eyes
    we were together when salty
    tears rolled down our thighs.
    But I like to indulge
    and she likes to tease
    whilst she floats on rivers
    I am taken by seas.


    If you slept and shed your cells in my bed I’d wear my sheets as a wedding dress.


    Maybe today at the bus stop
    was the last time I ever saw you.
    You didn’t say hi
    (neither did I)
    and you’re not the reason
    that on the bus I cried.
    If this is all that there is
    of us,
    after the hysteria
    and fuss
    I can’t believe you stood
    up and got the bus.


    Does he know his name’s in my head
    for him to taunt me and appear.
    I won’t see him for a year
    but when his name is in my throat
    here he comes back to gloat.


    Number 2. A sticky warm kiss of overwhelming love with an awful breath of control, I’d let his tongue patrol my skin even after he’d been bad, and sometimes he’d cry when my skin showed lines and he saw that I was sad. Still the best I’ve ever had.


    Number 5. Growing pains baby with brown eyes that capsize and kisses ill with lies. His heart was a split screen that he wedged me in-between, he’s the worst man I’ve ever seen.


    I saw she had white eyelashes
    every blink a new blank page
    I wondered if she’d remember my name
    when she’s fast asleep
    when the book’s closed

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    My attention span is entirely too short to mess with it. I try my best to read directly from beginning to end, but it never happens very well. I usually just skip around to get the main idea.

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    I've never understood poetry. Like, at all. Even the supposed good poems have little to no effect on me. Maybe I'm just not that keen on rhyme scheme or how the meter works, I'd rather just read some inspired free long-form so I don't have to worry about that crap. Whenever a poem has a dedicated rhyme scheme I always get distracted by trying to follow the rhyming instead of the content of what the poet is trying to convey.
    "And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." -Roald Dahl

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    It's pretty cool

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    i found the tumblr i was talking about!

    http://birthed.tumblr.com/

     

    I love imprints on skin,
    they’re like stamps – verification;
    I am here, please
    touch and
    dig in to me.
    A stranger scratches me by accident:
    I am real.
    Bite me and beat me.


    I had my hands on her shoulders;
    I wanted to pinch,
    to make an imprint,
    I wanted to be in her skin forever.
    I wouldn’t mind if after we kissed
    she dislocated her jaw
    and swallowed me whole -
    carry me with her everywhere she’d go.
    We only kissed the once
    but I don’t mind
    because I tasted her cherry mouth
    and I felt her kitten tongue
    and she went to bed alone
    with just me on her lips.


    We have the same voice
    we have the same eyes
    we were together when salty
    tears rolled down our thighs.
    But I like to indulge
    and she likes to tease
    whilst she floats on rivers
    I am taken by seas.


    If you slept and shed your cells in my bed I’d wear my sheets as a wedding dress.


    Maybe today at the bus stop
    was the last time I ever saw you.
    You didn’t say hi
    (neither did I)
    and you’re not the reason
    that on the bus I cried.
    If this is all that there is
    of us,
    after the hysteria
    and fuss
    I can’t believe you stood
    up and got the bus.


    Does he know his name’s in my head
    for him to taunt me and appear.
    I won’t see him for a year
    but when his name is in my throat
    here he comes back to gloat.


    Number 2. A sticky warm kiss of overwhelming love with an awful breath of control, I’d let his tongue patrol my skin even after he’d been bad, and sometimes he’d cry when my skin showed lines and he saw that I was sad. Still the best I’ve ever had.


    Number 5. Growing pains baby with brown eyes that capsize and kisses ill with lies. His heart was a split screen that he wedged me in-between, he’s the worst man I’ve ever seen.


    I saw she had white eyelashes
    every blink a new blank page
    I wondered if she’d remember my name
    when she’s fast asleep
    when the book’s closed
    lol, I can guess which word caught your attention

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ryan View Post
    lol, I can guess which word caught your attention
    a specific word? which one?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lungs View Post
    a specific word? which one?
    imprint(s)

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    I remember writing two or three poems, but I don't usually read poetry. I'm more interested in non-fiction and sometimes also fiction books. However, if they're cleverly made, I may enjoy poems very much and remember them for a long time. And I'm impressed by works like Goethe's Faust which are almost completely told in rhymes.

    If it's a story (like in Faust) then I'd read it from front to back. But if it's just a collection of poems I wouldn't mind skimming through the book and reading whatever attracts my attention.
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    When I read poetry I try to hear the author's voice as if the words are being spoken. Specific words will bring to mind images that either gel together and form meaning, or dissociate into broken images. In that case my mind will either search for a way to link the images, or if nothing is found, I'll just be left with specific word-evoked emotions although I don't understand the poem. I always feel stupid during literature lessons because we're taught to actively analyze the poem but I'd just feel it and see if I got it or not. Usually not, but when I do I'd feel special.

    Some poems are clearly not meant to be read that way. Those poems don't have pretty structure or images, so I just skim around for words and see what it's trying to say. There's usually some point behind it, or a smart metaphor. Then for the sake of passing exams I'll analyze it the way they taught us to. Like meter and form and metaphors and similes and rhymes. Just with more complex terms and stolen ideas to make your paper look more academic than it'll normally be. I won't usually read poetry that I don't like if not for school.

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    Attention-seeking repost:
    “I tell you, freedom and human rights in America are doomed. The U.S. government will lead the American people in — and the West in general — into an unbearable hell and a choking life. - Osama bin Laden

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    I usually jump around a lot. Never read it from front to back. And I usually read poetry very s.l.o.w.l.y. To soak in the experience of the poem.

    Sometimes I read it aloud but not always. I like the way words look on paper. To me some poems are better out loud and some are better on paper, if that makes sense.

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    It's different for every poem.
    INTp
    sx/sp

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    The proper way to read English language poetry is left to right.

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    I never read poetry and I hate teaching it. I assigned a book of poetry this semester for variety, but it's just not enjoyable to discuss it (or even read it except for some random poems here and there). Thankfully several students loved it and and basically carried the conversation. I avoided poetry classes like the plague when I was a student.
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    If I were to read a poetry book, I would flip through and read a few poems here and there. If I became bored with what I saw, I would toss the book aside. There are a lot of boring poems. Then there are some terrific ones that flow well, actually say something, and are genuinely clever.

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    I've owned many poetry books and in HS I had a masters of english teacher from Cornell as the AP English Lit teacher; he was the strictest teacher in school, certainly the most demanding.

    He was very through in his approach to literature; he suggested that we read up on the author first, like a mini bio, also to investigate the time in which the author lived, read some highlights of that century or time, for example, the world wars, etc.

    We had to know the background of the author, their culture, religious affiliations, and only after a well rounded knowledge of them could we approach their writing, according to him. In reading the poetry, we were asked to find the general theme, and then after that we could offer our interpretation.

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    I would love to know what it feels like to hold the last books of poetry and use them for a fire. I bet that fire would bleed from paper cuts and haunt my dreams.

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  38. #38
    SubtleSuggestion's Avatar
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    Depending on the ambiance of the poems, there are different ways to go about reading it.
    You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star. - Friedrich Nietzsche.

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    Marshmallow Foru-m chriscorey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SubtleSuggestion View Post
    Depending on the ambiance of the poems, there are different ways to go about reading it.
    My thoughts exactly.
    Amber casts infinity of shadows, and my Avalon had cast many of its own, because of my presence there. I might be known on many earths that I had never trod, for shadows of myself had walked them, mimicking imperfectly my deeds and my thoughts.

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