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Interpreting Poetry: An Oral Art

Updated on April 8, 2010

Making Poetry More Approachable

  As a poet, I get a lot of individuals who say they find poetry dry and boring.  These people are generally the same ones who listen obsessively to the same genre of music and think reading should be confined to how-to manuals or the latest issue of TIME magazine.  Chances are, they've never actually taken the time to really savor a poem and enjoy the sound of the words rolling off their tongue.  If this describes you, stop and scroll down to the next section to read the poem I've written there.  Read it aloud, enunciate the words and just let the sounds wash over you and barrage your brain with imagery.  Pay attention to the syntax, diction, accent and stress, as well as the form of the stanzas.  The object of a well-written poem is to create an experience for the reader in a way that is both accessible and attention-grabbing.  I can't stress enough how important it is to hear a poem aloud to come to a true understanding of its meaning.

  If you're a poet, this is your task.  Make the sound of your poem a vocal experience for the reader.  New poets often use rhyme to try to accomplish this, but that's overkill.  Rhyme used judiciously is extremely powerful, just be very careful not to overdue it. (Hint: ryhme doesn't have to fall at the end of a line to work)  You need your reader to be able to hear what is going on in the poem and you should use less words, not more, to accomplish this goal.  Try not to use five words where you can use two and don't repeat yourself unless it presents a new idea or is the only way to keep the form of the poem pure.  Look at each line of your poem individually and ask yourself, "What can I do to make this sound better?"  For example:  the line, "The whole of a fortnight on this island, in this moment" can become, "An island fortnight, in a moment." 

  Also, consider the sounds of your word choices themselves.  If your poem is contemplative and restful, use soft, lyrical language with plenty of sussenance. (soft sounding letters, repetition of consonants)  If your poem is dramatic and busy, use shorter line lengths and assonance. (repetition of vowels without the repetition of consonants) Above all, enjoy yourself and accept the challenge of creating something original and ultimately beautiful!

 

Velocity

Extinct, the elevator music

that once roamed

the earth.  Comfortable tinkle of

piano

or even the jazzy sax background

gives way to

the bang bong beat of a new era

haste.  Thrown off

the stately, familiar old heap.

Now full tilt

rap music, credit cards, fast cars,

and coffee.

It's froward, never toward and on

to the next

new notion, the endless hum and mutter.

And big macs.

Once, music was musical, friendly faces

filled the stores,

we stood in line at banks, sent

hand-wrote notes,

and anyone's word meant more.

Great Books On Poetry Available Now

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    • northweststarr profile imageAUTHOR

      northweststarr 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Ok, that was just bad ;)

    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 

      8 years ago

      NWS

      I will take the rap

      and I won't give you anymore flap.

      If I say any more then I will be a sap

      and you will show me the door, and

      I will not even be found using a map.

      As you can see

      my lines are filled with mediocrity.

      For me there will be no more rhyming,

      because I just don't have the timing.

      Thanks :)

    • northweststarr profile imageAUTHOR

      northweststarr 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Like your rap Opinionduck! Give me more!! LOL Thanx!

    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 

      8 years ago

      NWS

      I read your poem

      but it didn't get me going

      I think it must be an acquired art

      and I don't fit that part.

      Sorry I failed, but now I have to bail

      :)

    • northweststarr profile imageAUTHOR

      northweststarr 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Aware, thanx for your comment and the nice poem you left in the forum. generalbrat, I currently have an AA with an emphasis in the written arts. This poem was inspired by a time I was riding in an elevator and actually started to lean back and enjoy the music because I'd had such a stressful day. I started to think about stories I'd read from people talking about the past and how much better it was... Viola, this poem. Thanx for stopping by and I'll definitely check out the rest of your hubs!

    • generalbrat profile image

      generalbrat 

      8 years ago from california,usa

      HELLO, I FIND YOUR TIPS AND POETRY VERY INTERESTING. IS THIS SOMETHING YOU LIKE TO DO AS A HOBBY OR DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL FOR THE KNOWLEDGE YOU HAVE?

      I JUST LOVE TO EXPRESS MY EMOTIONAL THOUGHTS ON PAPER EVERYONE HAS THEIR OWN WAY. I CAN'T SAY THINGS PROPERLY IN VOICE BECAUSE IT COMES OUT ALL WRONG. WHEN I WRITE IT DOWN IT'S JUST THE WAY I WOULD HAVE SAID IT. THIS IS THE BEST WAY FOR ME BECAUSE IT ALLOWS ME PLENTY OF TIME TO CHOOSE MY WORDS. I REALLY LIKE YOUR STYLE. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS POEM? I HOPE TO SEE YOUR POEMS IN MY TROUBLED THOUGHTS BOOK YOU ARE A TRUE POET. CHECK OUT MY OTHER HUBS YOUR THOUGHTS WILL ALWAYS BE APPRICIATED. THANKS

    • aware profile image

      aware 

      8 years ago from West Palm Beach Florida.

      two for two im sold your fan ray

    • northweststarr profile imageAUTHOR

      northweststarr 

      8 years ago from Washington State

      Thanx Pamela99! I think people shouldn't need to have an AA in the written arts to be able to produce decent poetry and to appreciate a poem. So I guess this is probably my own little private crusade to help make poetry more accessible and fun for my readers/followers. I love feedback and appreciate you getting back to me.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I appreciate your explanation of how to properly write a poem. I have written some but I haven't felt they were very good and I appreciate the guideline you outlined. Great hub.

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