This is kind of a weird question, but how do people get more out of poetry? I feel like when I read it I don't reach a kind of depth and passion that some people get. I can resonate strongly with lyrics, but poetry falls flat to me.
Any tips on how to get more out of poetry?
(I've been reading Whitman's Leaves of Grass)
Thanks everyone for the suggestions! I've got my reading cut out for me, looking forward to it 📖
@sjcw I am the same way. I wish I can get more as well. I think being a part of groups can help because you can get different perceptions or just meditating on what you just read can also help. But I agree some people read it and just get it. I’m not one of those people.
- read it really slow, like one poem at a sitting max
- read it once to get the gist of it, then another time or two to really explore it
- start with something easy and striking in its meaning, then go back to the Whitman (maybe “Ithaka” by Cavafy or “He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by Yeats)
This is great. I would add that with some poetry, thinking too hard about "what it means" or trying to decipher the poet's "message" will actually work against you. Some of the best poetry makes no literal sense, but the word choices and imagery evoke a certain response from readers (and even different responses from different people). So if you can press pause on that analytical part of your brain, some poems may become more impactful for you.
@sjcw I have the same question.
@sjcw There is good advice from others here, but I would add to read it aloud, and find the rhythm and shape that makes it sing. That is particularly true with something like Leaves of Grass, which can be classified as “free verse,” meaning that it does not follow regular patterns of meter and rhyme.
@sjcw Yay, I love this question! (I have an MFA in Poetry & teach writing). The first error readers make with free verse is to stop at the end of lines, which gets choppy and nonsensical. Read for the punctuation.
Please try Pablo Neruda’s “I’m Explaining a Few Things” about the Spanish Civil War (but it speaks wrenchingly to gun violence today). https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poem/item/22618/auto/0/IM-EXPLAINING-A-FEW-THINGS
Then, read more Neruda, Mary Oliver, Elizabeth Bishop.
@sjcw you have to find the art that resonates with you.
I can walk into a book store and rifle through a dozen poetry books, and only one of them will speak to me.
Time can also be an issue...cumming's older, standard content is bland to me, whereas the poems from the end of his life are high energy.
@sjcw If you’re familiar with the process of Lectio Divina, try it with poems. Maybe even write out how certain words or phrases make you feel and what imagery you like or don’t. Active listening is how you get more into music, and active reading is how you get more into poetry.
This is an instance for folks who follow The Liturgists Podcast, The Alien & The Robot, and other things The Liturgists create.