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Rob's Tips on Reading Poetry

Rob's Tips on Reading Poetry - Rob's Tips on Reading Poetry...

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Rob’s Tips on Reading Poetry It isn’t always easy to know what to take from a poem. People often offer me this complaint when I talk to them about poetry: “I don’t understand poetry. I don’t get why poets try to hide their meaning. I wish that they would just come out and say what they mean! That would be easier to read.” Or something like that. Perhaps you have thought this at some point (I did when I was in high school). Thinking that poets are trying to “hide” their meaning is misleading, and I don’t believe that hiding a meaning is what poetry is all about. If the best poets were the ones who could hide their meaning the most, then the “best” poetry would be unreadable to anybody else. Instead, I believe that poetry should be more exact in its meaning than prose or plain speech. Let me explain: If I say “I love you,” then you have some vague idea of what that means. But I’ve said that phrase to my mom, my dad, sister, brother, ex-girlfriends, best friends, former classes I taught, pet bird, favorite book, etc. The phrase has very little meaning on its own. Some people, when they say “I love you,” mean “I want to get in your pants.” Some people mean “I commit my life to you,” or “you birthed
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