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How to Read Poetry Like a Professor

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Paris Wagner

on 3 November 2014

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Transcript of How to Read Poetry Like a Professor

1. Read a poem more than once

2. Keep a dictionary nearby so you can understand the meaning of all words

3. Read so that you can hear the sounds of the words in your mind

4. Always pay close attention to what the poem is saying (don't just skim over the words)

5. Read the poem aloud or have a friend read it aloud to you
5 Rules of Understanding
- Paraphrase the poem by restating it in a more understandable text

- The paraphrase should contain all the ideas in the poem that contribute to the central idea or theme

- Paraphrases should strive for plain and direct diction
Ask Questions
1. Who is the speaker?

2. What is the occasion?

3. What is the central purpose of the poem?

4. By what means is the purpose achieved?
Specific Reading Techniques
- Read the poem affectionately, but not affectedly

- It is better to read a poem too slowly than to read it too quickly

- Feel the rhythmical pattern of the poem and read it accordingly

- Give all grammatical pauses their full due
By: Paris Wagner
How to Read Poetry Like a Professor
Make the Meaning Clearer
Assume that the speaker is someone other than the poet. While the poem's speaker may share some of the characteristics of the writer, he or she is rarely ever the speaker.
Events or ideas in a poem will help the reader understand some episode in the poet's life. However, the poet normally features a persona, or speaker in the poem, who expresses a viewpoint the poet doesn't always share. This means that every poem is dramatic to some degree.
The purpose might be to tell a story, to reveal human character, to convey the expression of a scene, to express a mood or emotion, or to convey vividly some idea or attitude. The reader must determine the purpose individually and define it as precisely as possible.
It is important to distinguish means from ends. This can be answered by describing a poem's dramatic framework and by accounting various resources of communication.
Parting Thoughts...
- Always stay alert while reading poetry

- The purpose of a poem is to shock one into life and make one more alive

- A poem means something different to each reader so there is no wrong or right answer for the meaning of a poem

- Enjoy poetry
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