How to Read a Poem…and Start a Poetry Circle by Molly Peacock
Do you have doubts about your ability to read and understand poems? Do you nonetheless long to have poetry be a part of your life? If so, Molly Peacock’s How to Read a Poem…and Start a Poetry Circle may be the reading companion you’ve been looking for.
Part memoir, part reading guide, How to Read a Poem is a lyrical, personal exploration of the power and nuance of poetry. Peacock shares her own love of the art, describing how her favorite poems not only speak to her, but often speak for her, articulating aspects of her inner life that she herself had never found words for. This is true, she admits, even of poems she finds hard to fully comprehend. In other words, sometimes our bodies intuit the meaning and relevance of certain poems before our minds manage to decode them.
To help readers in our own deciphering of poems, Peacock invites us to think about poetry as a fusion of music, storytelling, and painting, with the line forming the music, the sentence telling the story, and the image showing us the poet’s vision.
She describes her joy not only in reading poetry for and by herself, but in sharing poems with friends who share her passion for the form. She tells of intimate gatherings where she and her companions each bring out a favorite poem—their talismans Peacock calls them since she carries beloved poems with her like charms—to read aloud over a meal. Whether two friends participate or many more, this reading to one another constitutes what Peacock calls a poetry circle. She states simply, “A poetry circle occurs when the mutual reading of poetry is at hand.”
Finally she offers an anthology of her talismans, with personal stories and startling insights to go with each poem. Thus, by reading Molly Peacock’s love treatise to poetry we become a part of her inner circle of poetry friends.
Immersed in Verse: an Informative, Slightly Irreverent and Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life by Allan Wolf
Immersed in Verse is a guide for teens interested in reading poetry, writing poetry and generally living like a poet. While the book’s style is playful and inviting, the advice within is serious and sound, making it a great introduction to poetry for beginning writers of any age.
Wolf summons readers to “plunge into words”, to notice with all our senses how the world we live in touches and affects us. “Poems,” Wolf tells us, “are all around us waiting to be written.” He defines poetry as a communication of what’s inside us and invites readers to write about the things that catch our attention, burst into our minds, or live in our hearts. His enthusiasm for looking at the world as a poet does, fully awake, is inspiring and contagious.
Wolf then offers a ‘guided tour’ of the various types of poems—rhyming, free verse, sad poems, funny poems, teaching poems, apologizing poems, love poems, hate poems, dialogues, riddles and more. “By opening up the possibilities of what a poem can be,” he tells us, “you discover a diverse buffet.”
We learn the nine habits of highly successful poets, including doing more and watching less, writing every day, and being playful with words. Wolf also gives quick digestible lessons on metaphor, simile, personification, meter, rhythm, repetition and internal and external rhyme. He offers assignments and prompts to inspire writers and help us jumpstart their poems. Finally, Wolf provides tips for performing poetry, hosting a poetry bash, making our own poetry books and seeking publication.
Immersed in Verse is a fun and thorough introduction not only to writing poetry but to choosing poetry as a way of life.
– Ona Gritz, Young Adult Librarian
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