How to read a poem

24/08/2018

Today is National Poetry Day:

National Poetry Day was established in 1997. A one-day national poetry event extravaganza, it is held on the fourth Friday of August each year.

From seasoned poets, to total newbies, to the simply-a-bit-curious, participants in Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2018 — on Friday, 24 August — will have the opportunity to be touched by the magic and excitement of poetry, to get involved in the poetry community, and to discover New Zealand poets, share poems and explore and experience what poetry is all about. . . 

I love poetry.

With or without rhyme, the economy of words, the way a poem helps me understand something I feel when I haven’t the words to explain it myself, the poet’s ability to say something with what is left out as well as what is put in . . .

But how do you read a poem?

Dunedin poet, Diane Brown provides her answer to that question:

“How do you read a poem?” a woman asked as we aqua-jogged. Despite years of writing and reading poems and a degree in literature, I had no easy answer. My pool friend was talking of the poems in The Weekend Mix and in particular poems without the certainty of rhyme and meter that she was familiar with. Many modern poems have irregular lines and seem to follow no pattern. Where does the emphasis go, how do you know when to pause? And how do you interpret?

The Romanian poet, Paul Celan said: “A poem, as a manifestation of language and thus essentially dialogue, can be a message in a bottle, sent out in the -not always greatly hopeful – belief that somewhere and sometime it could wash up on land, on heartland perhaps. Poems in this sense, too are under way: they are making toward something.”

I find this a helpful way to think of a poem. A bottle lying on the sand. You pull out the paper and unfold it. It’s in hieroglyphics. Imagine the frustration. All you know is that you have received a message from far away. A person reaching out. To you. Maybe you have to live with the uncertainty, maybe you can find tools to help decipher. . . 

Interpreting a poem can require a consideration of sound, appearance, surface and underlying meanings, and more words than the poem itself. And it’s easy to beat the life out of them.

Dear Reader, I urge you to simply enter into a dialogue with the poem and listen to what it has to say. Even if you get a glimpse of understanding, in the same way as you communicate with speakers of other languages. That’s more than you had before. Don’t be afraid, keep an open mind and enjoy the meeting.

If you’re of a mind to meet some poetry, you will find some of Diane’s  at her website.


366 days of gratitude

27/08/2016

My attempts at writing poetry have had little success. I can do doggerel but anything more serious defies me.

That doesn’t stop me from enjoying poetry and admiring poets who manage to say so much so succinctly, use language in innovative ways and paint word pictures that encourage readers to use their imaginations to see more than is one the page.

Today I’m grateful for poets and poetry.

(Whoops I’m late again, this is yesterday’s post for National Poetry Day).


National Poetry Day

27/07/2012

If you’ve reason to rhyme or in the mood for metaphor,  today’s the day to do something about it.

It’s National Poetry Day:

Now in its 15th year, National Poetry Day sees poets – both fledgling and award-winning – take to the streets, cafes, auditoriums and class rooms all over the country to read, rap, dance and sing.

The breadth and diversity of this year’s National Poetry Day performances are cause for celebration says event organiser and published poet, Siobhan Harvey.

“More than ever before the shows are interactive and visual, and there are some truly creative events using multi-media.

“There’s something for everyone. National Poetry Day isn’t just for established poets; it’s also for people who simply want to give poetry a go. So if you harbour a desire to perform a piece of your own, this is the day to throw caution to the wind.”

A full list of events celebrating poetry is here.

Tuesday Poem is a good place to start if you’re looking for poetry.

If  the proximity of the Olympics has led you to thoughts of sporting poems, there’s a good selection here.

And for no better reason than it’s the first poem I can remember learning at school and I’m sure it’s out of copyright:

Eletelephony by Laura Elizabeth Richards

Who tried to use the telephant—
No! no! I mean an elephone
Who tried to use the telephone—
(Dear me! I am not certain quite
That even now I’ve got it right.)
Howe’er it was, he got his trunk
Entangled in the telephunk;
The more he tried to get it free,
The louder buzzed the telephee—
(I fear I’d better drop the song
Of elephop and telephong!)

 

 

 

 


National Poetry Day

22/07/2011

It’s National Poetry Day.

 The link above will take you to a list of events aroudn the country.
 
Tuesday Poem has three poems for the day at the hub and links in the sidebar will take you to choices of other Tuesday poets.
 
I especially enjoyed The Raspberry-Coloured Hand-Knitted Cardigan by Jennifer Compton and in response to it by Mary McCallum (and her other) –If you buy the raspberry-coloured hand-knitted cardigan and unpick it .
 
Beattie’s Bookblog posts on Eden Tautali who won the National Schools Poetry Award with Nan a moving poem about her grandmother’s funeral.
 
Poems by all those shortlisted and the judges’ reports are online here.
 

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