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A poem is a concise verbal snapshot of a poet’s thoughts. Poems work through the images they paint, the sounds they create, and the ideas they communicate. The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau : The poet doesn't invent. He listens. ~Jean Cocteau Poetry is not always words. ~Audrey Foris : Poetry is not always words. ~Audrey Foris Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821 : Poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted. ~Percy Shelley, A Defence of Poetry, 1821 The Elements of a Poem : The Elements of a Poem Poets combine sounds, images, and shapes to make a unique creation in words that communicate with you, the reader. The Music of Poetry: Its Sounds Poetry needs to be read aloud. As you read, listen for words that rhyme and for a rhythm you can tap your fingers to, like music. Listen for words that imitate sounds you hear around you. And listen for letter sounds that repeat. Slide 8: Poetry is when words sing. ~6 year old boy The Elements of a Poem : The Images of Poetry: Its Pictures As you read poetry, let the poet’s words paint pictures in your mind. Poet’s use sensory images to appeal to sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch. Poets often use comparisons that give you new ways of looking at familiar things. The Elements of a Poem The Elements of a Poem : The Structure of Poetry: Its Shape Pay attention to how the poet has placed the words on the page. A new stanza or verse may signal a change of focus or of tone. The poet may repeat lines or words to emphasize important ideas. The Elements of a Poem How to Read a Poem : How to Read a Poem Think of reading a poem as having a conversation with the poet. Get Ready Look it over Read the title & think about what it suggests How to Read a Poem : Get to Know the Poem Read it through Pay attention to the punctuation Listen to the sounds of the words Read the poem again slowly, out loud Look up any unfamiliar words Visualize what the poem is about How to Read a Poem How to Read a Poem : Getting Into the Poem List things that catch your attention (repetitions, comparisons, rhymes, images, sounds). Pick one line that best represents what you think the poem is about. Talk about the poem. Share ideas. Listen to the tone of voice (For example, is the tone teasing, serious, or angry?) Think about who is speaking in the poem. What does the poem mean to you? How to Read a Poem Responding to a Poem : Responding to a Poem How did you feel as you read the poem? What do you think of the poet’s ideas? Do you agree? Why or why not? Responding to a Poem : What are your favourite images in the poem? Why did you choose them? What do you think of the sound of the poem – its rhyme, its rhythm, and the words used? Responding to a Poem Responding to a Poem : How does the poem connect with your personal life? What would you say to the poet about this poem if you had a chance? Responding to a Poem Responding to a Poem : What do you think the poem is saying? Responding to a Poem Discussing Poetic Language : Discussing Poetic Language Poets choose their words carefully for specific meaning, sounds, tone, emotional power, and the picture it paints. Poetic language consists of Poetic Imagery Figures of Speech Sound Devices Building Mood Vivid Language Poetic imagery : Poetic imagery Poets use images that appeal to our five senses: to hearing, sight, smell, taste, and touch. Some images may appeal to more than one sense, and not every poem will necessarily have images that appeal to all of the senses. Discussing Poetic Language Figures of Speech : Figures of Speech Similes Similes use the words “like” or “as” to compare. For example, “The snowflakes were like lace.” Metaphors Metaphors state a comparison without using the words “like” or “as”. For example, “The sun is a flaming torch in the desert sky.” Allusions Allusion are references to a person or place, or a literary text or character that exists outside the text itself. For example, “His strengths were herculean.” (a reference to Hercules in Roman mythology ; a man of great strength) Personification Personification is the description of an object as if it had human qualities or abilities. For example, “The wind whispered in the trees.” Discussing Poetic Language Sound Devices : Sound Devices Alliteration Alliteration is the repetition of a sound made by a consonant. For example, “sweetly singing softly” Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is the use of a word to imitate the sound it names. For example, “buzz,” “plink,” “sizzle” Discussing Poetic Language Building Mood : Building Mood Right from the beginning a poet can build mood. Word choice, placement on the page, and incorporating suspense can all build the mood of a poem. Exciting verbs (action words), descriptive adjectives (words that illustrate nouns), and expressive phrases all contribute to a poet’s vivid use of language. Discussing Poetic Language Vivid Language Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) : Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die Life is a broken-winged bird That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) : Hold fast to dreams For if dreams die repetition Life is a broken-winged bird alliteration That cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams For when dreams go metaphor metaphor Life is a barren field Frozen with snow. rhyming words: die-fly, go-snow Sample of a Poem “Dreams” by Langston Hughes (in Sightlines 10 on page 89) Summary : Summary Listen for sounds (alliteration, onomatopoeia, rhyme, rhythm) Look for images/pictures, and sensory details Examine the structure, shape, and punctuation Search for figures of speech (similes, metaphors, personification) Connect the ideas in the poem to your own personal thoughts and impressions Slide 26: A poem is never finished, only abandoned. ~Paul Valéry Slide 27: Information from Reading and Writing for Success by Lynn Archer, Cathy Costello, and Debbie Harvey Toronto: Harcourt Canada (1997) Other Sources : Other Sources Dreams by Langston Hughes. Crane, M., Fullerton, B., & Joseph, A. (2000). SightLines 10 (Prentice Hall Literature Series). Toronto: Prentice Hall Canada. 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