A guideline on how to read a poem. Tricks and techniques to help make reading a poem easier.
Step 1: Read through the entire poem once (for comprehension)
Get an initial feel for rhyme, rhythm, and meter
When reading aloud, read from punctuation mark to punctuation mark; not line-by-line
Get a general understanding of the subject EX: trees, dogs, unrequited love
Determine if it is a narrative (a poem that tells a story) or a lyric (a poem that gives feelings or an impression)
Step 2: Talk to the text (Application)
Make notes to yourself in the margin or on a separate page:
If the poem is a narrative, note the story/meaning of each stanza
If the poem is a lyric, note what the author is trying to tell you in each stanza
Use engaged reading strategies such as visualizing, questioning, making connections, summarizing, identifying/clarifying confusion
Highlight/circle words and phrases of ideas that are interesting to you
Ask yourself, “What’s the point?”
Look at the subject; what is it? Dogs, school, hockey…?
Ask, “What is the point the author is trying to make about it?”
Step 3: Analyze the poet’s craft (Analyze)
Look for evidence of poetic devices such as metaphors, alliteration, onomatopoeia, etc.
Notice the mood, tone, style, and imagery that the author uses
Comment on the purpose of these devices; “What do they add to the poem?”
Using these steps will help you with poetry and become a better reader of poems.